Changes to basic cheesecake batter composition, mid-2017
My experiencing a very delicious cheesecake from Trader Joe's back around early June of 2017 prompted me to give further consideration to overhauling the basics of my cheesecake recipes. The efforts began with Prototype 17 of my plain cheesecakes and ended with Prototype 21. Earlier in these updates I did a little tweaking with the crust. But the far more important changes throughout the updates would involve the batter.

I felt that I should cut back on the tartness of the cheesecake's batter, so I replaced half of the yogurt cheese with additional cottage cheese. In other words, the cheese base's cottage-Neufchatel-yogurt ratio went from 1:1:4 to 3:1:2. It seemed like this helped enhance the taste somewhat, but I still wasn't satisfied.

But the most significant change affected the stabilizer.

My cheesecake history began with what has probably been the most popular stabilizer in baking—wheat-type flour. I used different kinds of this flour, such as all-purpose and whole white.

As the years went by, I started bringing arrowroot on board (this stabilizer getting its debut very likely in mid-2012), earlier to supplement the wheat-based flour and later to replace it. It was probably around mid-2015 when I outright retired the wheat-based flour, so the arrowroot was on its own at that point. It seemed to have considerably more stabilization strength compared to its wheat-oriented predecessor.

Recently, I tried a rather risky experiment. I made a cheesecake with no stabilizer added. That was Prototype 18. This wasn't the first time that I had done this. I also made Prototype 8 this way, and that one was exceptionally delicious. But it was also exceptionally soft. But Prototype 8 contained only yogurt cheese for the cheese base. Prototype 18, on the other hand, also contained cottage cheese and Neufchatel cheese, and these two products already had some stabilizers in them, particularly xanthan gum—an industrial staple.

Fortunately, Prototype 18 was not an unstable disaster (a little sloppy, yes, but not so runny). And its taste was really terrific, pretty much like Prototype 8's and Trader Joe's. This outcome put arrowroot in the crosshairs.

But what would be a superior alternative to arrowroot? I was looking for sufficient stability, but I was also in the hunt for a really great taste, just like I would enjoy with a more typical, fat-laden cheesecake.

The time had come to give xanthan gum—an ingredient available for retail sale, at least in recent years from Bob's Red Mill—a try. This stabilizer has been put to extensive use in the food industry—and particularly in cream cheese (often in conjunction with guar and/or locust/carob bean gum here)! But I didn't think that xanthan gum had been embraced anywhere nearly as much in homes. Maybe one of the reasons was the difficulty in using it. I myself have incurred a number of failures in the past with this ingredient—often by using too much of what I found out the hard way to be an overwhelmingly powerful stabilizer!

Bob's Red Mill Xanthan Gum (click here for bigger, more detailed photo)

But how much, then, should I use? I Googled around and was led to start off small—very small—with this potent ingredient. So I carefully put xanthan gum to work in Prototype 19, and the results worked out reasonably well. The batter tasted awesome, but I wanted to tweak the stability. This adjustment, which included the amount of baking time, as well as how much xanthan gum to use, would ultimately lead up to Prototype 21, with which I would close out this basic overhaul of 2017.

So the resulting basic cheesecake batter would now involve these ingredients:

Cheese base (such as cottage/Neufchatel/yogurt)
Xanthan gum (supplementing whatever stabilizers were already included in the cheese base ingredients)
Granulated sugar

Compare and contrast the conventional list:

Cream cheese (with a sufficient amount of its own stabilizers, particularly xanthan gum)
Granulated sugar

Now that's very close!

In early October, not long after my overhaul efforts with my plain prototypes, I furthermore decided to try an "egg-speriment" (or, "eggs-experiment") with Prototype 7 of my maple cheesecakes. I added one egg on top of what I primarily had been using for nearly the past two years, i.e., I went from five eggs to six. While "one egg for every eight ounces of cheese base" seemed to be mathematically convenient, using a half-dozen eggs per cheesecake had a couple of advantages. One would make my grocery shopping easier, because of the way eggs have been packaged—typically in multiples of six (I scarcely have been using this ingredient for any other purpose). The other would be beneficial for the cheesecake's firmness and texture. The outcome of the maple cheesecake itself was great, so I decided at this point to utilize the sixth egg on a regular basis.

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