Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Great Cheesecake Battle - Margaret Ullrich

It's winter. We were in the middle of a blizzard. Time for a dessert. Something good and solid to finish off a rib sticking meal. I flipped through Entertaining with The Sopranos. Ah, Carmela's New Jersey Cheesecake. What could be simpler? It even looked like what I usually baked.


Okay. Growing up in College Point, Queens, NEW YORK, I had been taught that there was something different about the folks in New Jersey. Up to now I thought New Yorkers were just referring to the Jersey folks' love of big hair, tube tops, tight capri pants and Bruce Springstein.

But this was just too much. I mean what kind of people would do that to cheesecake?

A basic New York baked cheesecake recipe is a two-part deal.
First you mix the cream cheese, sugar, salt, vanilla and eggs together. Then you pour the glop into a graham cracker crust and bake.
Then you mix the sour cream, sugar and vanilla, smear that over the baked cheesecake and bake for another 10 minutes.

Carmela's ingredients were almost the same. But what they do in Jersey... I mean, does anybody else mix the sour cream with the cream cheese? And what's with the lemon juice?

Now I confess that when it's August in Winnipeg, I make a quickie sweetened condensed milk and lemon juice "cheesecake". It doesn't need baking, just a couple of hours in the refrigerator. Paul knows it's hot, so he cuts me some slack. But It's January and Paul expects a cheesecake to be a cheesecake. Like he says, he doesn't ask for much, for cryin' out loud.

I stuck to my old recipe. I mean, some things you just don't mess with.

I've heard about a cheesecake Winnipeggers made. The recipe used to be on a milk carton. It was the Co-op Refrigerator Cheesecake. A friend gave me an empty milk carton. I tried to fit in, be a real Winnipegger, but really. I couldn't believe it. Knox Gelatin? Heavy Cream? Separated eggs? CRUSHED PINEAPPLE? I think not.

Some things you just have to respect.

Another recipe down. Eighty-one more to go.

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