November 22, 2006

Cheesecake - RTE or Traditional

What factors determine the type of cheesecake dessert you might prepare on this Thanksgiving Eve?

If you're busy, short of time (and who isn't) and not a purist, you might go for the new Philadelphia Ready-to-Eat Cheesecake Filling that Kraft introduced in September. I had a coupon for it so I picked up a tub at the supermarket this afternoon. The filling is located in the refrigerated section next to the other cream cheese. I also bought a pre-made graham cracker pie crust to use with it.

It took me literally less than two minutes to take the lid off the pie crust, remove the lid from the tub and scrape the filling into the pie shell. Took longer than that to checkout at the grocery. There it was, ready to eat.

We already tested the results and here's what we think around here: The texture is nice--it's almost exactly like if you had mixed up one of the recipes that calls for cream cheese, sugar and non-dairy whipped topping. However, we thought the filling tasted a bit too sweet. Although I didn't add a topping or any mix-ins as suggested on the package, our very small slices were very rich.

Remarkable that is it too sweet, as half of this opinion is from a guy who can knock back a mixer bowl (or two) full of Blue Bell Dutch Chocolate ice cream with no complaints about "too sweet". Can't imagine mixing in chocolate chips or crumbled Oreo's and adding even more sugar. However, we did think that it was better than a grocery bakery item, so it wins points for at least being semi-homemade.

(Note to those people who keep slice-and-bake cookie dough and canned cake frosting in the fridge for quick sweet-tooth fixes--this product will fit in nicely with your other selections. Perhaps some graham crackers so you can use it as a dip.)

If you're not too busy and don't mind getting out your hand mixer to whip together a few ingredients you might use a recipe that calls for a few convenience foods. Here's a recipe from the Kraft, the same people who make the Ready-to-Eat filling.

I'm not much of a pumpkin pie fan, but don't mind eating pumpkin in a cheesecake.

The following recipe is from The Philadelphia Brand Cream Cheese Cookbook (1981, 191 pp).


A great alternative to traditional pumpkin pie -- a spicy pumpkin cheesecake in a gingersnap crust.

1 cup gingersnap crumbs
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
3 tablespoons Parkay margarine, melted
1 8-oz. pkg. Philadelphia Brand cream cheese
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
1 16-oz. can pumpkin
2/3 cup (5-1/3 fl. oz. can) evaported milk
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Dash of salt

Combine crumbs, nuts and margarine; press onto bottom of 9-inch springform pan.

Combine softened cream cheese, sugar and vanilla, mixing on electric mixer until well blended. Blend in egg; pour over crust.

Combine remaining ingredients; mix well. Carefully pour over cream cheese mixture. Bake at 325 degrees, 1 hour and 30 to 35 minutes or until set. Loosen cake from rim of pan. Cool; remove rim. Chill.

For traditionalists, who cook for taste no matter how long it takes, there's always the Joy of Cheesecake. I've yet to prepare a recipe from this cookbook that didn't receive a whole lot of compliments.

Whichever option you take on the cheesecake road, I hope you and your family will have a safe and happy Thanksgiving Day.


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