My fickle relationship with cheesecake.

“I always carry cake, in case there is a fork in the road”  author unknown

Ricotta cheesecake revised

I love cheese and simply swoon over cake, but never imagined the combination would send my taste buds lusting for more!

Growing up I never did acquire a taste for cheesecake. Recently, I read a glowing write up of a friend’s Italian restaurant in South Florida raving about his Sicilian-roots based recipe of homemade ricotta cheesecake which had me wondering what I was missing.

Coincidentally, not too long after, I found myself making a pit-stop there and I ordered the dessert in question. It took only a few small bites to convince me I had been missing something delightful and regretted snubbing this decandent treat in the past.

However, let me warn you, all cheesecakes are not created equal!

The difference between ricotta and those made with processed American cheese is transparent. Not only does the Italian-style cheesecake look different than its American or New York Style counterpart, but the texture and taste also varies. Italian cheesecake calls for ricotta which is made from whey—that is, the watery liquid that remains after cow, sheep or goat cheese is made. Ricotta is known to have less fat and more water than cream cheese.

In my opinion, while the fresh ricotta dissolves creamily on your tongue and has you craving for more, just like puppy love, the processed cheese is heavier and can leave you bloated and full similar to a relationship gone sour!

Just like relationships, I am partial to my friend’s recipe, but I do understand that true cheesecake lovers learn to appreciate the differences in cheesecakes and come to love the individual taste of each one that is well made.

As each cheesecake has different origins, we explore and appreciate the ingredients used in this beloved dessert. The German cheesecake is called Käsekuchen and it calls for cream and quark cheese (a cheese commonly found in Europe)

Canadians use maple syrup in their cheesecake. Here is a recipe with maple butter.

The Roman Style cheesecake, which contains flour, honey, a cheese similar to ricotta, and bay leaves. These ingredients are mixed and rolled into loaves like bread then baked, but this “old world” favorite is seldom baked today because it has been replaced by an Italian version which uses sugar instead of honey, ricotta or mascarpone cheese, adds vanilla extract to the mix and small bits of candied fruit, and omits the bay leaves.

Whichever version you prefer or “fall in love” with,  you can be sure there are many unique flavors and textures of cheesecake to pick from just as in our relationships.

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