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Cheesecake: can I use deli cream cheese?

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Can I use deli-counter cream cheese instead of the pre-wrapped, preservative laden, plasticky brick-style cream cheese in a cheesecake? Any thing I should be aware of?

Thanks!

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  1. That it will taste better? I'm pretty sure that using good cream cheese instead of crappy cream cheese will only result in a better final product with no adjustments needed.

    1 Reply
    1. re: wawajb

      I should have been more specific: deli cream cheese is much softer, and I am concerned there will be a radical difference in the texture of the finished product.

      Also, I imagine that brick cream cheese has emulsifiers... but does deli-style? Would it separate in the oven? Have you tried this yourself?

      Thanks wawajb!

    2. Absolutely yes, but you are correct about the texture issue. It will affect the finished cake and it won't work in every cheesecake recipe.

      In short, you MUST use the "plasticky brick-style cream cheese" to make a New York style cheesecake. The vegetable gums in the cheese play a significant textural role in the finished cake. When I'm making this style of cake (very dense, cakey outside, creamier centre), I use the regular variety of Philadelphia brand cheese. Other brands available where you live may work, but those available where I live (Toronto) make an inferior cake.

      Deli-style cheeses may or may not contain gums or other emulsifiers, but are typically softer and more spreadable in either case. I use a deli cream cheese without gums (specifically Western brand) for cream cheese cake recipes other than the New York style. It produces a much softer, lighter, richer, and creamier cake.

      Recipe adjustments may or may not be needed if the recipe calls for the standard cream cheese brick. The cake shouldn't separate in the oven and will likely taste fine, but it will have a completely different texture. You may need to adjust flour or starch quantities and/or baking times, or may may come out fine as is.

      You cannot use a "whipped" cream cheese.

      4 Replies
      1. re: embee

        I've always liked Philadelphia brand--is there any reason to consider it "plasticky"? I guess I'm asking if there is anything intrinsically wrong with vegetable gum..
        And thank you all--this is good to know, I love cheesecake so!

        1. re: BangorDin

          Philadelphia brand is less plasticky than many others, but I understand what Olivia means. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with vegetable gum and, as noted, New York style cheesecake needs it. But the best tasting cream cheeses don't have any, and many cream cheeses contain far too much.

          1. re: embee

            Thanks for this info. I'm not particularly fond of NY-style cheesecake and now I have so much more info on why my cheesecake ends up the way it does and how to create something otherwise. Awesome information. Thanks!

        2. re: embee

          Thanks for having a much better answer embee! I've always aimed for the lighter, creamier style of cheesecake at home, so I wasn't aware of the issues with the NY style. Good to know.

        3. If you like a lighter style cheesecake, you might want to try a whole different kit and kaboodle, ricotta cheesecake. And if you make ricotta cheesecake with fresh ricotta, it's only better.

          1. Thanks everyone--especially embee, your post was very informative--this is very helpful.

            As for "plasticky" it's really for lack of a better description of the texture; I find it very off-putting and unnatural.

            1. It might work well in a mascarpone cheesecake.