Cheesecake is my favorite dessert. Some people might say “Lara, aren’t you the bi making pie? Isn’t pie your favorite dessert?” The answer to that is yes, and cheesecake is my favorite pie. I know it’s technically called “cake” but if you think about the components of pie, and the components of cake, then you start to realize that you have been lied to your whole life and that I am correct, actually.
What makes cake a cake? Typically it consists of what people who know what they’re doing (and people like me pretending to know what they’re doing) refer to as “sponge” which is the…cake part of the cake. Maybe this sponge is in layers, maybe it’s in a loaf, perhaps in a loaf. Google dictionary defines cake as ” an item of soft, sweet food made from a mixture of flour, shortening, eggs, sugar, and other ingredients, baked and often decorated.” Obviously this isn’t the best definition; some cakes use butter and oil, not shortening, but you get the general idea.
Now, unless you are the Cheesecake Factory and are dedicated to making the most over-the-top monstrous layered cheesecakes, cheesecakes typically do not have sponge and are not in layers. What do cheesecakes have? Typically a crust, a filling (made with cream cheese or if you have class and money, marscapone or some other bs), and perhaps some kind of topping. What are pies? For the sake of consistency, Google defines pie as ” a baked dish of fruit, or meat and vegetables, typically with a top and base of pastry.” But we all know that this is a very limited definition, since there are custard/cream pies, fudge pies, pecan pies, etc. So scrap Google, let’s just agree that a pie consists of a crust, a filling, and perhaps some kind of topping. I rest my case. Cheesecake is cake in name only, but it’s heart, it’s soul, it’s true identity is that of a pie.
Now that we have that established, why is cheesecake my favorite? Well I’m not going to get into the general superiority of pies over cake (not in this post) but basically what is the main complaint that most people have of desserts they don’t like? “It’s too sweet”. Now I have a pretty strong sweet tooth, and normally I like things that other people might find too sweet. I enjoy most frosting, for example. I agree that there’s a line though, and eating an entire slice of sweet cake with sweet frosting, with little variation in taste or texture often gets boring and sickly. Great cakes will have a balance of flavors and textures, but your average run of the mill boxed cake or grocery store cake will not. Enter the cheesecake.
Cheesecake, consisting mainly of fatty tangy cream cheese, and sometimes sour cream, automatically balances the massive quantities of sugar that go into the dessert. There’s sweetness but there’s also richness, tang, and maybe even some fresh fruity flavors or warm spice if you make a gingersnap crust. Also, if I’m going to eat dessert then I want a goddamn Dessert. I want to be satisfied, I want to feel like I’ve gotten either my money or time’s worth. Yeah I could eat some cookies or candy, but after I eat cheesecake I feel like I’ve had a dessert ~experience~. Usually this also means I feel like I may never move again because I’m so full of cheesecake goodness, but you know what that’s just my problem, it is perfectly possible to have a small amount of cheesecake and be satisfied because you don’t need a lot to be satisfied.
I understand there are those who just don’t like cream cheese, or think cream cheese is strictly for bagels and shouldn’t be part of a dessert. Maybe they don’t like rich things and would rather eat some cloud raindrop mystical fairy cake. Those can be good too. I’m really not picky when it comes to dessert. But when I want that ultimate dessert experience, I’m going for pie, and if I have the choice, that pie will be cheesecake.