Cheesecake Styles from Around the World

From marbled chocolate to dripping strawberry glaze, cheesecake is one of the most popular sweet treats in the United States. The typical cheesecake is made from soft, fresh cheese placed on top of a crust base. Some are baked, while others are not. A variety of toppings may enhance the appearance and flavor of the dessert, such as nuts, fruit and chocolate. Around the world, the dessert also appears in many different shapes, forms, and flavors.

Greek Cheesecake

Before the Romans embraced the dessert after the conquest of Greece, the ancient Greeks were one of the first to popularize the cheesecake. Today, you will find Greek-style cheesecakes made with layers of buttered phyllo and a cheese-egg filling. A traditional, unpasteurized fresh cheese called mizithra plays a role in the fillings, which is comprised of milk and whey from sheep and/or goats.

Italian Cheesecake

When the majority of modern cheesecakes made in the United States and Canada use cream cheese, Italians are known for using ricotta. The ancient Romans mixed flour, ricotta-like cheese, and honey to make their version of the cheesecake. It was then shaped into loaves. Today, the cheesecakes may include ricotta or mascarpone cheese, vanilla extract, and sugar. The ingredients typically produce a drier dessert than American versions.

United Kingdom Cheesecake

Decorating the menus of coffee shops and pubs, cheesecake in the United Kingdom is typically made with a mixture of cream cheese, sugar and cream as the filling. Crushed, buttered biscuits serve as the base, which is then topped with fruit compote, such as lemon curd, passionfruit, black current, and raspberry. This type of cheesecake is also seen in Ireland, New Zealand, and Australia.

German Cheesecake

A German-style cheesecake is baked using quark cheese made from sour milk, and often described as a “yogurt-like cheese.” The cheese creates a sweet yet unique taste.

French Cheesecake

Using gelatin to bind the ingredients, a French-style cheesecake is very light in texture and flavor. The French use Neufchatel cheese – one of the oldest cheeses in France. The soft and slightly crumbly cheese offers a saltier and sharper taste.

Belgian Cheesecake

Often flavored with melted bittersweet chocolate, the crust of a Belgian cheesecake is made with speculaas – a traditional Dutch-Belgian biscuit.

Latin American Cheesecake

Fruit plays an important role in the cheesecakes of Latin America. In Brazil, a layer of guava marmalade (called goiabada) is added. The Argentineans serve their cheesecakes with strawberry or another berry marmalade as a topping.

Japanese Cheesecake

The powdered form of Japanese green tea called matcha is added as a flavoring for some of the cheesecakes in Japan. Other flavors include lychee and mango. The texture of the desserts is usually light and spongy. The flavor is also lighter and considerably less sweet than American cheesecakes.

6 Ideas for Soul Food Desserts

Soul food cuisine usually incorporates the cooking techniques and traditions of African Americans and highlights dishes associated with the southern United States. When it comes to sweet treats in the South, there are certain state gems that truly shine. For example, Georgia desserts make good use of their peaches and pecans. Examples of soul food desserts include:

1) Peach Cobbler: A fruity filling of peaches is poured into a large baking dish that is then topped with batter, biscuit or piecrust to create a cobbler. The dessert is then baked like a pie with a difference that  cobblers never have a bottom crust. Other popular Deep South cobbler flavors include blueberry and blackberry.

2) Coconut Cake: Covered in white frosting and dressed in coconut flakes, coconut cake typically uses white or yellow batter instead of a coconut-flavored cake base. Some recipes will replace the milk with coconut milk or include coconut extract. The shredded coconut is often toasted or sweetened. Another Southern variation of the coconut cake is to add lemon curd as a filling to produce a tart flavor.

3) Sweet Potato Pie: Although it shares similarities with pumpkin pie, sweet potato pie is a Southern classic for Thanksgiving and other holidays. Made with mashed sweet potatoes, milk, sugar and eggs, the pie uses nutmeg to create a distinct holiday flavor. Topped with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, Northerners may add marshmallows as a topping.

4) Pecan Pie: Primarily comprised of corn syrup and pecan nuts, this pie is a popular choice for holiday meals and often showcased as a Southern specialty. In New Orleans, Louisiana, pecan pies are quite popular and may include bourbo n whiskey in their recipes.

5) Red Velvet Cake: Behind the creamy white or cream cheese icing of the layered Red Velvet Cake is shades of dark red, bright red, or reddish browns. Usually, the color is achieved by adding red food coloring or beetroot. Despite its hue, the cake is flavored vanilla or chocolate.

6) Banana Pudding: Repeated layers of Vanilla Wafers, sweet vanilla custard (or pudding), and sliced bananas create a tasty dessert topped with whipped cream. Depending on the recipe, the pudding is made using a baked or the more popular refrigerated method. Sometimes, ladyfingers are used instead of wafers.

Herbs and Spices for Your Desserts

Without spices, your desserts would lack the flavor, punch, and sparkle that you’ve come to expect. Experimenting with different spices will create desserts that help you think out of the box. If you’re looking for new ideas on how to use herbs and spices in your desserts, consider the following suggestions.

Allspice: Allspice gets its name because it offers a taste similar to cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. The dried spice berries come in whole or ground form. The spice is ideal for spice cakes and cookies. For pies, use in plum, peach and apple creations. Allspice also works well in flavored breads and steamed puddings.

Anise: The small seeds of anise add a licorice flavoring to cookies, cakes and breads. This spice comes in dried whole seeds or a powdered form. Examples of desserts with anise include Anise Biscotti and Anise Mousse served with tropical fruit.

Cardamom: You tend to see cardamom used in a lot of Indian dishes, but the fragrant, cinnamon-like seed can add pizzazz to your breads, spice cakes, and cookies as well. Use the spice in apple and pumpkin pies. Consider making Cardamom Rice Pudding or a rich carrot pudding for your next dessert.

Cinnamon: The spicy bark of the cassia tree offers a sweet, hot flavored spice for desserts – especially apple pie served during the holidays. Other desserts that benefit from cinnamon include spice cakes, cookies, custards, and other fruit pies.

Cloves: With a pungent and sweet flavor, clove is a spice that often emerges during the winter holidays. The dried whole buds and powdered form adds flavor to spice cakes, cookies, quick breads, and fruit pies. Try making Apple Butter Tarts or Greek Baked Stuffed Apples with cloves.

Fennel Seeds: Offering a slight licorice flavor, fennel seeds are a favorite for Scandinavian bakers who add the spice to their cakes, cookies, and breads.

Ginger: Adding aroma and tang to desserts, ginger is a versatile spice that appears in many cultural sweet treats. Depending on the recipe, you may use dried ground, dried whole, preserved, crystallized, or fresh ginger. Ground dried ginger is used to flavor cakes, cookies, custard, and fruit pies. Cakes and cookies (such as ginger snaps) blossom when crystallized and preserved ginger is added.

Mace: The outer covering of nutmeg is called mace, which offers a similar yet slightly milder flavor than nutmeg. The spice works well in spice cakes, cookies, and custards. Try adding to fruit desserts – especially those made with peaches, plums and apples. Mace Pound Cake could become your next crowd pleaser.

Mint: The refreshing scent of mint adds a cool, flavorful taste to desserts. There are more than 30 varieties of mint, including peppermint, apple mint, and lemon mint. Use in various fruit salad and dessert recipes, such as Mint Chocolate Pie and Peppermint Ice Cream.

Nutmeg: Nutmeg offers a sweet, nutty taste that livens up cookies, cakes, pies, custard, and pastries. The spice is also a flavorful component when making eggnog. Add to your pecan or sweet potato pie recipe. Since ground nutmeg quickly loses its flavor, it is recommended to purchase whole nutmeg and grate when needed.

Poppy Seeds: What is a lemon poppy seed muffin without the poppy seeds? A flower produces the tiny, blue-black seeds that can be used when making cakes, cookies, breads, and pastries. Interestingly, it takes 900,000 poppy seeds to make a pound. Sometimes, the whole seeds are ground into a paste that serves as a filling for some desserts.

Saffron: Swedish bakers add the fragrant spice to cakes and breads. Doesn’t Pears Poached in Saffron Vanilla Bean Syrup sound delicious?

Using Jelly, Jams & Preserves in Desserts

Jams, jellies, marmalades and preserves are sweet spreads that often find their way between pieces of bread, toast, and crackers. Made from fruit or fruit juice, the cooking process of the spreads offers variations in clarity, firmness, and ingredients. They also play a role in delivering a fruity burst of flavor to an array of desserts and sweet treats.

What’s the Difference?

Before you explore the possibilities of fruity desserts, you should get familiar with the differences between available options. Jam is typically a thick spread made from crushed or ground fruit. Jelly does not have any visible pieces of fruit and is made from the juices. Whole or large pieces of fruit cooked in thick sugary syrup create preserves. Marmalade has a soft gel consistency comprised of pieces of fruit and citrus peel.

Desserts Ideas for Jelly, Jams & Preserves

Just some of the ways you can use jelly, jams, and preserves includes making flavored cream cheese frosting, cookie bars, ice cream sundae toppings, fruity tarts, muffins, fruit bars, sticky buns, and fruitcakes. Other ideas…

Jelly Desserts

Paula Deen garnishes her Old South Jelly Roll Cake with a dusting of confectioners’ sugar, jelly or jam, and whipped cream. An extremely easy way to make Jelly Cookies is with a container of piecrust and jelly. You can also add peanut butter to the recipe for a PB & J treat. Try using frozen or refrigerated pie dough to create Cream Cheese and Jelly Turnovers. Unbaked or unrolled Pillsbury piecrust is a common choice. A recipe from Country Living calls for ½ cup softened cream cheese, 1 large egg, sugar, salt, and 8 tablespoons of jelly, such as guava.

Jam Desserts

From sweet, fruity cake to thumbprint cookies, the thickness of jam makes a delicious ingredient in many dessert recipes. For example, all over the world, you will find a variety of jam cookies, from Austrian Jam Cookies using chopped almonds and raspberry jam to Swedish Jam Cookies made with chopped walnuts and dark corn syrup. Perhaps you’d rather sink your teeth into a slice of Smucker’s Peanut Butter & Jam Cheesecake – a rich peanut butter cheesecake inside a graham cracker crust topped with strawberry jam glaze.

Preserves Desserts

Transform vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, pineapple chunks, chocolate syrup, maraschino cherries, banana, and strawberry preserves into Banana Split Dessert Crepes. Get tropical with Pineapple Rum Dream Cake, which uses crushed pineapple, French vanilla cake mix, and apricot preserves to create an island treat. For a low-calorie dessert for the summertime, Creamy Fruit Ambrosia combines chopped pecans, low-fat vanilla yogurt, pineapple, peaches, shredded coconut, and peach preserves.

Healthy Calendula in Tea and Desserts

Throughout northern Mediterranean countries, there is an orange or yellow-colored flower that grows. Also referred to as ‘marigold’ or ‘pot marigold,’ calendula has become a popular choice for tea drinkers, who consume the herbal blend for its taste and health benefits. In addition to providing a hot beverage, calendula is also used to add yellow coloring and flavor to foods, such as rice, soup, cereals, and even dessert.

Calendula flowers are ideally picked as soon as they open during the summer. The young and tender leaves are good for salads because they possess a slightly peppery taste. To make calendula tea, steep dried flowers in boiling water for about five minutes. Many will sweeten with honey if there is a bitter taste. The flowers contain beta-carotene, sterols, vitamin A, vitamin C, and complex polysaccharides with immunostimulant properties that are awakened in the water.

Calendula and Desserts

Calendula flower petals have also found a place in making desserts. They add a subtle flavor to cookies, custards, and milk desserts. An example of a sweet treat that uses the flower is Calendula Drop Cookies, which are made with fresh calendula blossoms, sugar, butter, orange juice concentrate, vanilla, eggs, flour, baking powder, salt, and almond halves. Other sweet treats you can make with calendula includes the Mardi Gras favorite King Cake and Banana Cake, which both use dried or fresh petals.

Health Benefits of Calendula Tea

Calendula tea possesses anti-inflammatory, detoxing, and antibacterial properties. When you settle down to sip on a cup of calendula tea, you can take advantage of many other health benefits, such as relieving a sore throat, calming an irritated mouth, and limiting the damage of gastrointestinal conditions. Drink the tea when you are sick to rejuvenate your immune system. The tea is also used as a topical treatment for conjunctivitis (pink eye), ear infections, skin irritations and inflammations (such as acne) and for the stimulation of collagen production.

Organic Desserts from Amy’s Kitchen

Have you ever tried organic desserts? They are so fresh and tasty! Amy’s Kitchen (which we mentioned in a previous post about gluten free desserts), is a popular company that has amazing organic choices!

ORGANIC DESSERTS

  • There’s an apple pie with juicy organic apples and juice concentrate. It is lightly sweetened, baked in a tender butter crust made with organic whole wheat, rice, and tapioca flour. It is sweetened with honey. They do list allergens and this product contains wheat and milk.
  • Next you have a chocolate cake, which is moist, light and, simply, irresistible. Some ingredients include organic wheat flour and cocoa powder. It is sweetened with organic evaporated cane juice. Allergens in this product are wheat.
  • I know we have covered this one before, but it is just so good I had to mention it again: Amy’s gluten free, dairy free chocolate cake. The final result is light, tender, moist, and so delicious that everyone will enjoy it even if they aren’t gluten intolerant. This product has soy milk and a variety of flours such as whole grain brown rice flour, organic unsweetened cocoa powder, tapioca starch, garbanzo bean flour, potato starch, whole grain sweet white sorghum flour, and fava bean flour.
  • The lemon poppy seed cake has a refreshing delicate lemony flavor obtained by lemon oil and juice. It is enhanced by a sprinkling of poppy seeds throughout that add texture and a unique taste all on their own. This cake does contain milk and wheat.
  • Amy’s Orange Cake is moist, light and delicious with the sweet taste of orange accomplished with juice and oil. It is baked with organic wheat flour and evaporated cane juice.

A SLICE

So, are you ready to have a slice all to yourself? Check out AmysKitchen.com! You can also join their Facebook page.

Photos courtesy of Amy’s Kitchen. Thank you!

Let’s Make a Tropical Ice Cream Sundae

Ice cream sundaes usually come topped with hot fudge, whipped cream and a cherry on top, but this is not the only way to enjoy this popular frozen dessert. When looking for different ways to spice up your ice cream treats, consider taking a walk on the tropical side. The following ice cream sundae recipes incorporate island flavors and fruits:

Tropical Fruit Sundae

Perfect for fruit lovers, this sundae incorporates the flavors of pineapple, coconut, kiwi, and passion fruit.

Ingredients

  • Vanilla ice cream
  • Pineapple chunks
  • Sliced kiwi
  • Passion fruit
  • Coconut
  • Whipped cream

In a sundae dish, add one scoop of vanilla ice cream. Add pineapple chunks, kiwi slices, pieces of passion fruit, and coconut. Top with whipped cream. Optional toppings include chopped nuts and sprinkles.

Tropical Coconut Sundae

Coconut ice cream might not be the easiest ingredient to find, but you can always invest in making a completely homemade dessert. You may also substitute the coconut ice cream for Perry’s Tropical Neapolitan, which offers mango, pineapple and coconut flavors of ice cream.

Ingredients

  • Coconut ice cream
  • Mango sauce
  • Sliced banana
  • Pistachio nuts

Put a scoop of coconut ice cream in a bowl. Add mango sauce and top with slices of banana. For the finishing touch, sprinkle pistachio nuts.

Warm Tropical Banana Ice Cream Topping

When you’re looking for a tropical alternative to hot fudge, consider this island twist on a warm topping.

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 6 ripe bananas (sliced)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
  • 3 ½ tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts

Over medium heat, melt the butter in a skillet. Add the banana slices to the skillet. Stir in the vanilla extract, and cook the ingredients until the bananas turn a golden brown color. Add the coconut flakes and stir. Top with confectioners’ sugar and walnuts. Serve quickly over ice cream.

Grilled Pineapple Sundae

If you love pineapple, then this sundae is right up your alley.

Ingredients

  • 1 fresh pineapple
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar (or maple syrup or honey)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • Vanilla ice cream
  • Maple syrup

Prepare a fresh pineapple for slicing. Cut the fruit and trim off the rind of each ring. Remove the tough core. Place the rings to the side, and preheat your grill to medium-high.

As the grill preheats, mix the butter, brown sugar, and lemon juice in a small saucepan. Heat the ingredients until they are evenly mixed. The sugar should completely dissolve. This will serve as your glaze.

Brush one side of the pineapple rings with the glaze. Place the rings on the grill with the glazed side down. Brush the tops of the rings with the glaze.

Close the cover of the grill and cook for about 3 minutes (or until the pineapple rings show the characteristic grill marks).

Turn over the rings, and brush with the glaze again. Grill for another 3 minutes (or until grill marks appear on the other side). Remove the pineapple from the grill.

Place one or two pineapple rings on a plate. Add one or two scoops of ice cream to the center. Drizzle with maple syrup, and serve immediately.

Banana Pineapple Sundae

This sundae will satisfy the foodie that enjoys the taste of pineapples and bananas together.

Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons brown sugar
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • 1 ½ teaspoons butter
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 small bananas (firm and sliced)
  • 1 cup cubed fresh pineapple
  • ½ teaspoon rum extract
  • 2 cups vanilla ice cream

Add brown sugar, orange juice, butter and cinnamon to a large saucepan. Bring the ingredients to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium, and cook for 2 minutes. Make sure to stir the contents while cooking. Add the bananas and pineapple. Cook and stir for 1 to 2 minutes longer. Remove the ingredients from the heat and stir in the rum extract. Top a scoop of vanilla ice cream with the cooked fruit mixture.

 

3 Ideas for Easy No-Bake Desserts

From Rice Krispie treats with M&Ms to chocolate mousse, no-bake desserts come in handy because they are usually quick and easy to make. Whether you need a spur-of-the-moment sweet treat or can’t bear to turn on the oven in the summertime, consider the following ideas for no-bake desserts:

1) Ice Box Cake

It doesn’t take much to make this old-fashioned no-bake cake that puts your refrigerator to good use. Start off with 1 ¾ cups chilled heavy cream, ¼ cup sugar, ¾ teaspoon mint extract, one 9-ounce package chocolate wafers, and 1 cup miniature chocolate chips.

To make an easy ice box cake, use an electric mixer to make mint cream – beating the heavy cream, sugar, and mint extract until stiff peaks form. Place two sheets of wax paper side by side as a liner for a serving platter. To assemble the cake, spread each chocolate wafer with around ½ tablespoon mint cream to form stacks. Lay the stacks horizontally along seam of paper. Press gently to form a log. Use a small spatula or knife to cover the log with remaining mint cream.

Refrigerate the cake for at least four hours or up to two days. When serving, gently remove the wax paper from underneath cake. Sprinkle chocolate chips on top. Use a serrated knife to diagonally slice the cake.

2) No-Bake Cheesecake

You don’t have to pay a visit to Cheesecake Factory to enjoy the deliciousness of your favorite dessert. There is a simplified, traditional way to enjoy this classic sweet treat with many different variations. A sample list of ingredients for a basic recipe may include two packages of graham crackers, unsalted butter, sugar, cream cheese, sweetened condensed milk, fresh lemon juice, and vanilla extract.

Place graham crackers in a large resealable plastic bag. Use a rolling pin to crush into very fine crumbs. Pour the crumbs into a medium bowl and stir in sugar. Add butter and stir until ingredients are well combined. Press the crumb mixture into a 9-inch springform pan, making sure to spread it about 2 inches up the side of pan. Press flat and allow the crust to chill in the freezer for at least 10 minutes.

To make the filling, set an electric mixer on medium-high speed, and beat the cream cheese in a large bowl until it becomes smooth. Gradually add and beat in small amounts of the condensed milk – scrape the sides of the bowl when needed. Beat in the lemon juice and vanilla. Transfer the filling into the crust and use a rubber spatula to smooth over the top. Cover the cheesecake with plastic wrap and put into the refrigerator until firm (about 2 ½ to 3 hours).

3) Banana Pudding

The layered effect of banana pudding is a traditional favorite of families across the United States. Different variations exist, which could use sweet vanilla custard, instant vanilla pudding, instant banana pudding, Vanilla Wafers, freshly sliced bananas, ladyfingers, whipped cream, and meringue. The pudding can be baked, but many choose the refrigerated version to save time and energy. Also, while some people enjoy making banana pudding from scratch, there is also an easier, quicker method that involves a box of instant pudding. A basic recipe uses:

1 box instant Jello vanilla pudding
2 small containers Cool Whip
1 box Vanilla Wafers
3-5 bananas

Prepare the banana pudding according to the directions on the box. Chill the pudding and add in one container of Cool Whip. Layer the wafers, pudding, and thinly sliced bananas. Continue to layer until all of the ingredients are gone. Pudding should make up the last layer. Top with extra Cool Whip. You may also decorate with a drizzle of crushed cookie crumbs, almond slivers or chocolate sauce. Keep chilled in the refrigerator before serving.