National Cheesecake Day is Thursday, and you shouldn't need more than one guess for which national restaurant chain is leading the celebration.
The Cheesecake Factory, which has a location outside Hamilton Place, will mark the day by releasing a new flavor: Chocolate Caramelicious Cheesecake Made With Snickers. This sweet indulgence consists of original cheesecake swirled with Snickers on a brownie crust with chocolate, caramel and peanuts.
It's the latest in a lineup that boasts more than 30 cheesecake choices, with signature slices featuring everything from strawberries to lemons, from cookie dough to tiramisu, from hazelnuts to Peanut Butter Cups.
Culinary website Chowhound.com categorizes several types of cheesecake, including savory versions filled with such add-ins as spinach, bacon or tomatoes. Among sweet cheesecakes, two types are most common.
New York style cheesecake is ultra rich and dense, but still creamy, and "relies on lots of cream cheese for tang and texture, bolstered by heavy cream, eggs and sugar," according to the site. Some recipes call for sour cream instead of heavy cream. "Purists shun any added flavorings, but you'll often find New York cheesecakes topped with strawberries or other fruit," the site says.
"Regular" cheesecakes are "lighter, fluffier, shorter, sweeter and often flavored with all manner of different ingredients, from chocolate to fruit, not to mention topped with all sorts of sauces, candies and other garnishes," says Chowhound.com. Both styles often have a graham cracker or cookie crumb crust.
The simplicity of key ingredients in cheesecake makes it easy to adapt to seasonal flavors, which is why you'll often see restaurant menus touting cheesecake swirled with cherries for Valentine's Day or pumpkin-embellished cheesecake in the fall.
Their adaptability makes them a popular special-occasion dessert, says former Chattanoogan Kelli Lockerman, who operated Scenic City Cheesecakes before moving to Atlanta three years ago.
"I think my No. 1 seller is my New York-style cheesecake with fruit topping. I did an apple caramel cheesecake, and a lot of people ordered that. And I also have a chocolate turtle cheesecake that people like."
Nathan Lindley, chef/owner of The Public House in downtown Chattanooga and Il Primo restaurants on the North Shore and in Ooltewah, has a Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey Chocolate Cheesecake on the menu at The Public House. It's among the restaurant's top three desserts, he says.
Created by longtime pastry chef Dottie Mae, the recipe "is really a very dense cheesecake, almost like a flourless torte," Lindley says. Everything except the Oreo cookie crumble for the crust is made from scratch.
Technically, National Cheesecake Day is a made-up holiday, like many of the observances compiled by NationalDayCalender.com, but there's really no reason not to celebrate. Even if the origins of the day are unclear, according to the site.
However, the history of cheesecake traces to ancient Greece, where a form of the dessert was served to athletes. The earliest attested mention of a cheesecake was by Greek physician Aegimus, who wrote a book on the art of making cheesecakes.
For National Cheesecake Day 2020, consider a slice of delight just what the doctor ordered.
Email Lisa Denton at email@example.com.
Try it for a cause
Feeding America, the largest domestic hunger-relief organization in the country, can benefit in two ways when you eat cheesecake at The Cheesecake Factory.
* On Thursday, July 30: Restaurants will donate $1 to Feeding America for every slice of any cheesecake sold on National Cheesecake Day.
* July 31, 2020-July 29, 2021: Restaurants will donate 25 cents for every slice of Chocolate Caramelicious Cheesecake Made With Snickers that is sold.