Sunday, July 11, 2021

Cheesecake and More

A friend had a cookout today and asked if I would bring real American cheesecake.  Well as "real" as possible given that the ingredients here in Euroland aren't exactly the same.  I originally thought that this would be a simple post about me making cheesecake but it's going to be way more complicated than just that so bare with me.

There are two types of cheesecake, the kind you bake and the no-bake kind.  I prefer the no-bake version.  The key ingredient to cheesecake, at least in the USA, is Philadelphia cream cheese.  Which of course you can't get over here in Czechland.  

What you can get is Philadelphia cream cheese spread.  First, the spread is not the same thing as regular cream cheese.  I do know people who make cheesecake with the spread but it doesn't taste the same.  A 125g (4.4oz) container here costs 43Kč ($2).  This would be kind of pricey to use for cheesecake plus it's not the right ingredient so it would not turn out right.

In Czechland most people use tvaroh which is kind of like American cottage cheese but drier and not as milky.  Tvaroh is used heavily for baking here.  One of my favourite dishes are plum or apricot dumplings with tvaroh.


The closest thing I've found to cream cheese is lučina.  Lučina entered the Czechoslovak market in 1981.  It's almost like cream cheese but a little drier and a bit tangier than traditional cream cheese    

I use lučina for all of my U.S. recipes that requires cream cheese.  Lučina comes in little 100g (3.5oz) blocks for 23Kč ($1.08).

In Germany, people use quark.  Quark always messes with people because there is no translation for it.  When you type the German word "quark" into Google Translate the English translation you get back is "quark".  Quark is kind of like cream cheese but not really.  It's a soft, fresh cheese that can be used for either cream cheese, ricotta, or even sour cream.

Side note...every child in the USA learns the nursery rhyme about Little miss Muffet.

Little miss Muffet, sat on her tuffet, eating her curds and whey

Along came a spider who sat down beside her

And frightened miss Muffet away

The kick is that kids in the USA don't know what curds and whey are.  When kids ask what are curds and whey we just say it is cottage cheese. back to the cheesecake.  The other key ingredient that doesn't exist over here are graham crackers.  A graham cracker is a sweet cracker made with graham flour that originated in the USA and dates back to the 1880s.  

Graham flour is just whole wheat flour that is ground more coarsely.  It has just slightly less protein than white wheat flour.  

Graham crackers are eaten as a snack.  They are often flavoured with honey or cinnamon but they are most famous for being one of the key ingredients to make s'mores.  No camping trip or bonfire is complete without s'mores.  You roast a marshmallow over an open fire.  You then put the marshmallow and a piece of Hershey's chocolate between two graham crackers and enjoy the ooey gooey treat.  The reason that it's called a s'more is because once you'e had one you always want some more.  

Graham crackers are one of the most popular pie crusts in the USA.  You can even buy pre-made graham cracker pie crusts that come in a disposable aluminium pie pan.

With no graham crackers over here, people use digestive biscuits.  Now comes the British English.  

What we call a 'cookie' in the USA is called a 'biscuit' in the UK.  Sušenka in Czech.  What the USA calls a 'biscuit' is almost a 'scone' in the UK.  No equivalent of either in Czechland. 

A digestive biscuit is a semi-sweet "cookie" that dates back to 1839 in Scotland.  The "digestive" part was that they acted like an antacid because they were first baked with sodium bicarbonate.  The digestive biscuit is one of the most popular biscuits in the UK.  I prefer the ones with chocolate on side.  They are perfect for dunking in to your tea.

In Euroland, people grind up digestive biscuits to use for pie crusts.

The first cheesecake I made for my friend's party was a chocolate peanut butter cheesecake.  I used a recipe that I found on YouTube.  Here's the video but to be fair I did make a couple of changes.

©El Mundo Eats

 I didn't use digestive biscuits for the crust.  I have a bag of graham cracker crumbs from a care package so I did make a proper graham cracker curst for the cheesecake.

When it came to making the chocolate layer, I didn't use regular cream.  Instead, I used pařížská which is chocolate cream.  

The regular cream, šlehačka, that I used in the peanut butter layer was 40% but the chocolate was only 27%.  This helped make it even more chocolatey tasting.

This thing took hours to make but it turned out really well.

I also made a smaller vanilla lemon cheesecake.  Whipped cream in a can here isn't the same as it is back in the USA.  In the USA it is sweet but not here.  Here it tastes more like air.  I took the šlehačka, whipped it up, added a little vanilla and put it in a bag and piped it on top of the cheesecake.

I also used one of the pre-made graham cracker pie crusts that I had from another care package.

Both of the cheesecakes were popular but the chocolate peanut butter one was the winner.

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