The Roman conquering legions introduced the cheesecake in Great Britain and Western Europe. Towards the year 1000 AD, cheese cakes were booming across the whole of Scandinavia, England and Northwestern Europe.

Already in ancient Greece cheesecake was considered a great source of protein, so much so that evidence suggests that it was served to the athletes during the first Olympic Games in 776 BC. Greek brides and grooms were also known to serve cheesecakes as their wedding cakes. The mixture of simple ingredients such as flour, grain, honey and cheese was turned into a cake and put in the oven. Very different from the more sophisticated recipes that we know nowadays.

The Romans continued to expand their empire, and in the process brought cheesecake recipes to the Europeans. Great Britain and Eastern Europe began experimenting with ways of leaving their own mark on the cheesecake. In each European country, the recipes started to take own different cultural shapes, using original ingredients from every region.

The first cookbook was printed in 1545. It described the cheesecake as a sweet food. Even Henry VIII’s chef made his own contribution to the cheesecake recipe. Apparently, he used to cut the cheese in very tiny pieces and let them soak in milk for about three hours. He then forcefully mixed them together and added eggs, butter and sugar to the mix.

Cheesecake did not start looking like the form we nowadays associate with the USA until the 18th century. Around that time Europeans started using whipped eggs instead of yeast to get their cakes and breads to rise. This eliminated the taste of yeast, which meant that the cheesecake tasted more like a dessert. When the Europeans migrated to the United States, some of them brought their cheesecake recipes with them.

Cream cheese was an American addition to the cake, and it has become a basic ingredient in the US since. In 1872, a milk producer from New York tried to reproduce a delicious French cheese. Instead and purely by accident, he discovered the process for creating a cream cheese. Three years later, this cream cheese was wrapped in tin foil and distributed in local stores under the brand name of Philadelphia Cream Cheese. The Philadelphia Cheese Cream brand was bought in 1903 by the Phoenix Cheese Company, and then in 1928 by the Kraft Cheese Company. Kraft continues to manufacture this delicious Philadelphia cream choose that we all know to this day.

Every part of the world prepares this delicious cake in their own way, and it is logic that every person would want to use local ingredients. The Italians use Ricotta cheese, while the Greeks resort to Feta. Germans resort to cottage cheese, while the Japanese rely on a combination of corn starch and egg whites. There are special cheesecakes that are made using blue cheese. Despite all the variations, the main ingredients of this popular dessert- cheese, grain and a sweetener-remain the same.

Today I present you my own version: a cheesecake with a mango-passion fruit purée. Ideal for holding on to that summer feeling a little longer before the autumn comes around the corner!

Mango – Passion fruit purée:

4 Mangos
150g Passion fruit purée
Some sugar
Lemon juice

Preparation:

  1. Peel the mangos, remove the seeds and cut them into tiny pieces.
  2. Boil them briefly and then add the sugar, the lemon zest and the purée in succession.

Cheese cake recipe

500g flour
20g yeast
300g milk
3 egg yolks
8g salt
78g sugar
150g butter

Preparation:

  1. Prepare a flexible dough. Add the butter after 5 minutes of kneading it.
  2. Leave it to rise for the first time for ten minutes.
  3. Grease your baking tin.
  4. Roll out your dough and use it to cover the tin.
  5. Let the dough rest for about ten minutes before removing the excess dough and pinch it.
  6. Pour the purée and the filling in the tin and finish baking it.

To prepare the filling:

300g cream cheese
100g sugar
27g corn starch
2 egg yolks
120g milk
1 vanilla bean
2 egg whites
1 lemon zest

Preparation:

  1. Firmly beat the egg whites.
  2. Mix the rest of the ingredients.
  3. Add the egg whites.
  4. Fill the bottom with the mango purée.
  5. Fill with cheese filling up to the edge.
  6. Leave the whole to finish baking for 35 to 45 minutes at 180°C.
  7. Once it has finished baking, leave it on a grid to cool down.

To finish the cake, I recommend sprinkling the whole with a mixture made up of equal parts of cornstarch and sugar glass. You can use mango pieces for the decoration. Enjoy!

About the author

María Fernanda Escalona is a Venezuelan pastry chef, baker, chocolatière and ice cream maker living in Belgium. She received her culinary education at CVO Gent, the Basque Culinary Centre, and the Callebaut Chocolate Academy. In 2018 she won the Bronze Medal at the Cuillère d’Or competition in Paris and became a laureate at the Belgian Chocolate Awards. You can check out more of her work at https://www.instagram.com/mariafernandaescalona/.