Holiday Favorites

12 Days of Christmas Desserts: Decadent Cheesecake

Cheesecake: Gingerbread, Eggnog and Candy Cane, Oh My!

Looking for a holiday dessert that will satisfy everyone in your family?  Look no further than cheesecake!  This treat is so versatile, almost any of your favorite ingredients can be combined to make a rich and decadent dessert.  Since it’s the holidays, we suggest trying gingerbread, candy cane, eggnog, red velvet or even – chocolate cranberry cheesecakes!  The possibilities are endless!  So, sit back, grab a creamy slice of cheesecake and learn all about this dessert’s rich history:

The first “cheese cake” was most likely created during the time of the ancient Greeks.  Anthropologists have excavated cheese molds in Greece which were dated around 2,000 B.C.!  In Greece, cheesecake was considered to be a good source of energy, and was also a popular dish to serve at weddings.  The simple ingredients of flour, wheat, honey, and cheese were formed into a cake and baked – a far cry from the more complicated and flavorful recipes available today.


Andes Candies Cheesecake from Sally’s Sweet Shoppe

When the Romans conquered Greece, the cheesecake recipe was modified by including crushed cheese and eggs.  The Romans called their cheesecake “libuma” and it was also served on special occasions.  As the Romans expanded their empire, they brought cheesecake recipes to the Europeans.  Great Britain and Eastern Europe began experimenting with ways to put their own unique spin on cheesecake.

It was not until the 18th century, however, that cheesecake would start to look like something we recognize in the United States today.  Around this time, Europeans began to use beaten eggs instead of yeast to make their breads and cakes rise.  Removing the yeast flavor made cheesecake taste more like a dessert.  When Europeans immigrated to America, the settlers brought their cheesecake recipes along with them.

The cream cheese found in most cheesecakes today was an American addition.  In 1872, a New York dairy farmer was attempting to replicate a French version of cheesecake; instead, he accidentally created cream cheese.  Three years later, cream cheese was packaged and distributed to local stores and it soon became a staple ingredient in the United States.

Each region of the world also has its own take on the best way to make cheesecake.  Italians use ricotta cheese, while the Greeks use feta.  Germans prefer cottage cheese, while the Japanese use a combination of cornstarch and egg whites.  There are specialty cheesecakes that include blue cheese, seafood, spicy chilies and even tofu!  In spite of all the variations, the popular dessert’s main ingredients – cheese, wheat and a sweetener –remain the same.

No matter how you slice it, cheesecake is truly a dessert that has stood the test of time.  So, as you start breaking out the cookbooks or researching bakeries, consider adding a crowd-pleasing cheesecake to your holiday feast!

To make your own decadent cheesecakes, check out this collage of recipes!


Find a Decadent Cheesecake at one of these WBA member bakeries:

Aggie’s Bakery & Cake Shop
7328 W Greenfield Ave
West Allis, WI 53214
Phone: 414-482-1288

Sally’s Sweet Shoppe
S42 W31370 Hwy 83, Suite 3
PO BOX 202
Genesee Depot, WI  53127
Phone: (262) 968-1803

The Looking Glass Bakery
1 Sherman Ter.,
Madison WI 53704
(By appointment only)
Phone: (920) 207-3539

Simma’s Bakery
817 N. 68th Street
Wauwatosa, WI 53213
Phone: (414) 257-0998

For a complete list of WBA Member Bakeries, click here.


More Christmas dessert ideas:

First Day of Christmas:  Yule Log
Second Day of Christmas:  Gingerbread House
Third Day of Christmas: Classic Sugar Cookies
Fourth Day of Christmas:  Peppermint Bark
Fifth Day of Christmas:  Cinnamon Rolls
Sixth Day of Christmas:  French Macarons