Everything You Need To Know About Making Cheesecake

This guide will ensure that you make the best one yet.

IMAGE Riell Santos

Cheesecakes are one of the most decadent and most loved cakes. What's not to love about it? It's an incredibly creamy and cheesy cake that marries sweetness and tanginess on a flavorful, buttery crust that delightfully crumbles with every slice you make. 

The most basic of cheesecakes are some of the most versatile cakes, too. Do you love blueberries? Maybe, strawberries or even mangoes would make a delicious pairing with cream cheese. The basic cheesecake can easily be changed from one fruity confection into another simply by changing what goes on top! 

With so much going for it, it's no wonder that cheesecakes have become a favorite among all the cakes! 

However, not everyone knows how to make a cheesecake from scratch. It's admittedly intimidating at first but when you read a recipe, you'll notice that not only does it contain fewer ingredients than a traditional cake, but it is also made with less effort than you may have thought. 

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What makes cheesecakes incredibly intimidating to most is probably the cost of the cream cheese. We admit: cream cheese is not cheap. A bar of cream cheese easily costs over P100 each and to make a basic cheesecake requires at least three bars. That's already over P300! 

To help you save your investment and reward you with a cake that's worth the money, effort, and patience that all desserts require, here is the ultimate guide to making the cheesecake of your dreams: 

Photo by Riell Santos

1 Choose your kind of cheesecake. 

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There are two kinds of cheesecakes: baked cheesecakes and no-bake cheesecakes. Since there are two kinds of cheesecake, you need to determine which you will make even before you even start on a recipe. This is a crucial and important decision because this will determine one of the most important ingredients you will need to make the kind of cheesecake you want. 

If you're planning on baking a cheesecake, you will need eggs. If you want a no-bake cheesecake, you will need gelatin. These two different ingredients in cheesecakes will definitely determine what you need to buy in addition to the bars of cream cheese you will need to make it. 

Once you figure this out, only then can you get started on buying the appropriate ingredients and start on your recipe. 

Photo by Pexels

2 Use the right cream cheese. 

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Stroll down the aisle of the chilled section of your local major supermarket and you will see a number of different kinds of cream cheese. Don't be fooled by the cream cheese that are usually sold in tubs. These are usually flavored cream cheeses but even the plain cream cheese packaged in tubs are not as firm as the cream cheese packaged into blocks. This difference in consistency matters, especially if you're making a no-bake cheesecake.

Here's why: The cream cheese found in tubs are usually "whipped", meaning this kind of cream cheese has been whisked to add air into its contents. This is how to make the cheese more spreadable straight out of the refrigerator, so even when still cold, these are already softened.  

However, a bar of cream cheese is not as spreadable straight out of the refrigerator. This kind of cream cheese is firmer, without any air incorporated into the mix. When softened, a bar of cream cheese is just as easily spreadable as the ones found in the tubs so while this may not matter to someone who loves cream cheese on their toast, this matters when making cheesecakes because this can alter the consistency of the cheesecake. Even if you use the same amount of cream cheese, whether you have a tub or the bar, you will notice the difference when you discover your cheesecake can't stay firm enough to hold its shape. 

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Photo from Public Domain (Pexels)

3 Use a springform pan. 

Despite the kind of cheesecake you're making, the best pan to use for a cheesecake is the springform pan. A springform pan is basically a pan with removable sides and bottom. These two pieces are held together by tightening or loosening a latch on the side of the pan. This latch usually creates a tight enough seal for the batter to not seep out of the pan. However, an overly runny batter can leak out of the pan. This is also why a crust is usually formed as the base of a cheesecake. 

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Photo by Miguel Nacianceno

4 Make then chill the crust. 

There are many ways to make the base or the crust of a cheesecake. The most classic is the graham cracker crust but don't let that hinder you from being creative and using another kind of cookie for the crust. Vanilla, chocolate, or even a gingerbread cookie crust all sound incredibly delicious when paired with the right kind of cheesecake. Even nuts stirred into the crust can give your cheesecake an extra exclamation of delight with every person who eats a slice. 

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Just remember that once you've made your crust, chill it until ready to use. 

Photo by Flickr.com (Michelle Schrank)

5 Always cream the cream cheese. 

Once you have the ingredients for your recipe, time to start the batter. Whether you're making a baked cheesecake or not, you must always start preparing the cream cheese by creaming it first. Creaming cream cheese is the only way to achieve a silky, creamy texture when your cheesecake is done.

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Have you ever eaten a not-so-creamy cheesecake that still had globs of tangy cream cheese that just didn't mix with the rest of the cake? That was probably because the baker didn't cream the cream cheese before starting the batter. 

How do you cream cream cheese? If you have an electric mixer, use the paddle attachment of a stand mixer or the whisk attachments of a handheld one. Either way, beat or cream the softened cheese until the mixture is smooth and creamy. 

You may want to add the granulated sugar to the cream cheese, even if it isn't completely smooth. The sugar granules will help you cream the cheese better, especially if you're beating the cream cheese manually with a large whisk, wooden spoon, or even a silicone spatula.

Photo by Pixabay

6 Beat in the remaining ingredients. 

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A creamy, silky cream cheese mixture is the perfect time to add the remaining ingredients. Whisk in the heavy cream and bloomed gelatin for the no-bake cheesecake or beat in the eggs for the baked version. You can also stir in the lemon juice, vanilla extract, or other flavoring ingredients you want at this stage. As long as the mixture is smooth, the resulting cheesecake will also result in a smooth and silky texture. 

Photo by Riell Santos

7 Chill or bake it. 

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Pour your finished cheesecake batter into the prepared pan and either chill it overnight or bake it according to your recipe. If you're baking the cheesecake, remember that you may need a water bath to help prevent cracks from appearing on the top of your cheesecake. The biggest reason for cracks is an oven that's too hot, so even if your recipe doesn't require it, you may want to try it with one anyway.  

To create a water bath, follow these steps:

  1. 1. First, wrap your pan in foil to prevent the water from seeping into your cake. 
  2. 2. Place the foil-wrapped pan in a large pan. 
  3. 3. Pour water into the large pan so the cheesecake pan has water surrounding it. The water should reach around 1/4 way up the sides of the pan. 
  4. 4. Place both pans in the preheated oven. 

If you're chiling your no-bake cheesecake, cover the top with foil to prevent any flavors from the refrigerator from contaminating your cake as it chills and firms up overnight. 

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Photo by Miguel Nacianceno

8 Cool and chill completely. 

Your fresh-out-of-the-oven cheesecake will need to completely cool down first before it can be chilled overnight. Don't be hasty and impatient and immediately it place in the refrigerator. Not only will this make your refrigerator less efficient, but you will also run the danger of condensation forming above your cheesecake and those water droplets dripping onto your cake. Nobody wants a wet cake.  

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If your no-bake cheesecake is not chilled through enough before you slice into it you run the danger of your slice (and the remaining cheesecake!) slouching and basically melting before your eyes. Only a completely chilled through cheesecake will result in perfectly straight and creamy slices. 

Photo by Bianca Laxamana

9 Slice using a hot knife. 

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Once you've been patient and exercised self control, you will be rewarded with a decadent cheesecake slice. To get that perfect slice, dip your knife into hot water first and be ready with a kitchen towel. A hot knife will easily and cleanly create those perfect slices you have always envied at restaurants and the kitchen towel will ensure each slice is as pristine, with no crumbs from the previous slice to mar its surface. 

Slide it onto a plate, grab a fork, and enjoy. 

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