Cheesecakes are made from cream cheese (or Ricotta in Italy, or any of the white, soft fresh cheeses available in other area of Europe). These are dense, creamy, and rich, so small slices are usually the best (you can always come back for seconds!). The traditional crust used in the States is one made of Graham Cracker crumbs (digestive biscuits work well).

To make these cakes, it will be necessary to have a round springform pan, normally 3” [7.5cm] in height. The springform pan has a removable bottom which is essential for easily removing the cakes from the pans.

These cakes take a long time to bake, normally about an hour, so be sure to plan ahead.  Some also suggest the use of a bain marie, or water bath. This is so they will not dry out too much while baking. In reality, they are much like a very thick custard (using soft cheese instead of milk) and should be treated as such. Because you will use a springform pan that is not watertight, you will need to carefully wrap a piece of heavy-duty foil around the outside of the pan to prevent water seeping in. Make sure you do not puncture the foil as you bring it up around the sides of the pan (in Europe, use a heavy-duty foil and double wrap).

As a test for doneness, the internal temperature of a cheesecake should register 150F [66C]. If possible, insert the instant-read thermometer in the side of the cake, just where it rises above the side of the pan (this will avoid leaving a mark and possible crack in the center).

The cakes then need to be cooled completely which will take at least another hour. For this reason, I normally bake them a day ahead. The cakes should be refrigerated once cooled, but brought to room temperature before serving for the best flavor. 

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