‘Tis the season.

It’s that time of year again.

Busy bakers, all dressed in white, creating delicious desserts in a fantasy of whipped cream, sprinkles, fruits, nuts, and twelve different kinds of chocolate; festive music in the air; jolly folks in red, passing out gifts to all the good girls and boys.

Yes, it’s time for National Cheesecake Day!

Thursday, July 30th, 2009. A day to celebrate our sweet and delicious legacy. If you’ve been very, very good this year you can stop by our Chicago bakery for a FREE slice of cheesecake, 11am-2pm (one per person). We’re also celebrating with a cheesecake sample bar, live music at noon and more fun stuff for the whole family.

At Eli’s we understand the need for a special holiday to celebrate our delicious signature dessert. We know that cheesecake is a confection to be held above all others – but does everyone share our passion? Are there actually people out there that do not understand what a cheesecake IS?

Perhaps an explanation is in order:

-A cheesecake is not really a cake at all, but a pie or tart. Some would even say that it’s really a custard.*

-Cheesecake is, in its simplest form, an emulsified mixture of cheese and a stabilizer (eggs, gelatin or starch). Cheesecakes prepared with eggs or starches are baked; those with gelatin are not. They are often prepared inside of a cookie or graham cracker crust, but not always. Cheesecake is not only served at dessert; savory cheesecakes made with herbs, meats, or spices are great served with crackers or on a bed of greens with a salad course.

-Cheesecake recipes vary greatly from person to person and region to region (though I am certain that Eli’s Chicago-style cheesecakes are superior to all others).

-An Eli’s Cheesecake is a mixture of cream cheese, sugar, eggs, sour cream and vanilla that is baked in a shortbread cookie crust and served cold. We bake over 50 different varieties which include additional ingredients like fruits, nuts, chocolate, caramel, candies and even ricotta, mascarpone and goat cheeses.

Clearly, cheesecake is quite complex.

Part of its allure is that it is intangible and difficult to define. I’m glad cheesecake has its own holiday – to encourage us to explore the subtle flavors of the fine cheeses, the heady vanilla, and the sweet cane sugar, to fall in love with its creamy texture and delicate scent, to examine its rich history and unique variations.

Oh, and it’s really yummy, too.

Happy holidays!

*Our resident food expert and VP of Operations, Jolene Worthington, concedes that cheesecake is, in fact, a pie.

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