Cheesecake is one of those classic desserts that almost everyone loves. Unless of course you have a dairy allergy then you’ll stay far, far away from it. While it may seem too complicated to make at home, I assure you, it’s not.

Sure, there are a few steps involved, but the key thing to remember is having your eggs and cream cheese at room temperature. For the best crack-free cheesecake, it’s best to bake it in a water bath. It yields a light, creamy texture and is well worth the effort. Cheesecake always tastes better the next day, so bake it the day before you want to serve it. Now that we’ve got the basics down, it’s time to have a little fun with the crust, filling and toppings.

The Base
The classic graham cracker crust is nice, but every now and again it’s great to switch things up. Try:

  • Grinding up ginger cookies. They work especially well for pumpkin cheesecake
  • Chocolate cookie crumbs are fantastic for caramel, peanut butter and raspberry cheesecakes
  • Add finely chopped nuts, oats or seeds to the cookie crumbs for added texture and taste

The Middle
There’s something to be said for a straight-up vanilla or chocolate cheesecake, but with some fun add-ins, they could take your cheesecake to the next level of deliciousness. Try:

  • Swirling tahini, dulce de leche, salted caramel or chocolate fudge sauce into a creamy vanilla filling 
  • Mix in chopped chocolate peanut butter cups to a chocolate filling
  • Drop fresh berries (raspberries, blueberries, blackberries) on top of a vanilla filling
  • Stir in chopped candied ginger, dried cherries or cranberries, chopped toasted nuts to the filling
  • Swap some of the cream cheese with ricotta, mascarpone cheese or even strained cottage cheese
  • You can never go wrong with lemon zest in a vanilla cheesecake

The Toppings
Cheesecake with no fun toppings is like a salad with no dressing; it just doesn’t reach its full avour potential. Try:

  • Salted caramel, roasted strawberry sauce, or warm chocolate sauce
  • A rhubarb/cardamom compote is divine on top of vanilla cheesecake kissed with a bit of lemon zest. Cherry compote is divine with chocolate cheesecake
  • Have a favourite jam? Melt it down with a tiny bit of water and drizzle it on top of your favourite cheesecake
  • Candied nuts and citrus rind, chocolate shavings, even crumbled cookies are a fun way to add texture to the cheesecake
  • Never underestimate the power of fresh, seasonal berries and a well-made cheesecake. Macerate them in a little sugar and minced mint or basil, and they make a lovely topping. Don’t forget the whipped cream! 

​Check out a great recipe to make Apple Crumble Cheesecake

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