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Cheesecake is a creamy baked dessert
made from cheese that is sweetened and flavored. The texture can range from
airy and light to dense and heavy. Some are flawlessly smooth and moist while
others have a drier and more crumbly consistency. Traditional cheesecakes
are simply flavored with vanilla or lemon and topped with sour cream or berries.
The popularity of this rich dessert has spawned countless variations, such
as pumpkin, white chocolate, crème de menthe and apple cinnamon.
The two cheeses most often used
to make cheesecakes are cream cheese and ricotta cheese. Sieved cottage
cheese is sometimes used, but the resulting cheesecake lacks the creamy
texture of one made with cream cheese. The cheese is mixed with eggs, liquid
and flavorings using an electric mixer. To prevent cracking, do not overmix
a cheesecake batter; beat just until the mixture is blended. The cheesecake
is usually baked in a crust of finely crushed, sweetened graham cracker
crumbs or cookie crumbs that are mixed with just enough melted butter so
they hold together. Some cheesecakes have a light sprinkling of crumbs or
a pastry in lieu of a crumb crust. The most familiar size is a 9-inch round,
baked in a springform pan that has removable sides. Cheesecakes can be baked
at a consistent temperature of about 325°F or combination of a brief time at a high temperature (about 425°F) followed by a longer time at a low temperature (about 250°F).
After baking, cheesecakes must be thoroughly chilled before serving. They
last for several days in the refrigerator; without toppings, they can be