What makes cheesecakes adaptable to any culinary style is their cheese. Back in Ancient Greece, every market sold cheeses to those who cannot make their own. By the time the fourth century B.C. came, the most accepted white Greek cheeses were being seasoned with spices and baked into a manner similar to pies and cakes. Even the Romans, during the height of their power, used a great deal of cheese in their cooking.
They preserved cheese using a salt-based sauce and provided the recipe for the celebration of the wedding cake, which still contain cheese as the main ingredient.
The Americans and Their Cream Cheese
A soft, mild-tasting, sweet, white cheese is the cream cheese. Generally, cream cheese contains at least 33 percent milk fat and a moisture content of not more than 55 percent and a pH level ranging from 4.4 to 4.9. Cream cheese is not usually matured and is meant to be consumed fresh. This makes it diverse from other supple cheeses, like the Neufchatel and the Europe’s Brie. The taste, production and texture of the cream cheese are more comparable to that of the Mascarpone and Boursin.
Cream cheese was known to originate in the United States during the year 1872. In Chester, New York, a dairyman developed a richer cheese made from whole milk and cream. During the year 1880, A.L. Reynolds, one of the cheese distributors in New York, first began issuing cream cheese, which was then covered in tin-foil wrappers, called the Philadelphia Brand.
Hence, the name Philadelphia Brand cream cheese was adopted by the Reynolds for the product since, at that time, the quality of food products were related with the city where it originated. It was not until 1912, when James L. Kraft created the pasteurized cheese. This invention eventually led to the improvement of the pasteurized Philadelphia Brand cream cheese, which is not the most fashionable cheese used in making cheesecakes.
The French and Their Neufchatel
While the Americans like to use cream cheeses for their cheesecakes, the French used Neufchatel cheese in their own culinary style of creating cheesecakes. Neufchatel is a flavorful cheese that provides cheesecakes with a light and airy texture and eventually became the basis of the modern American cheesecake.
The French Neufchatel is slightly crumbly, soft and mould-ripened made in the region of Normandy. It was one of the oldest cheeses in France with production dating back as far as the 6th century. Neufchatel cheese is somewhat similar to camembert in appearance, with a white, dry and edible rind, but with a sharper and saltier taste.
Additionally, Neufchatel cheese has the aroma and taste of mushrooms. What makes this cheese different is that unlike other cheeses with soft and white rinds, Neufchatel cheese has a grainy texture.
Although, Neufchatel has been less popular after the World War II, several cheesecake recipes still use the cheese. In fact, there are also Americans who likes to use Neufchatel instead of cream cheese when making cheesecakes, which they can purchase at several gourmet shops.
The Italians and Their Ricotta
When the Italian adopted the cheesecake recipe, they used ricotta cheese to make their cheesecake a little drier.
Ricotta cheese is a whey cheese made in Italy. It uses whey, which is a limpid, low-fat and nutritious liquid that is the by-product of cheese production. In its basic form, ricotta is also an un-ripened and uncooked curd, which is normally un-drained of its whey. It has a fresh, creamy and grainy white appearance, slightly sweet in taste and usually contains around 5% fat.