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Cherry cheesecake is a popular gourmet cheesecake variety that is sold at restaurants and bakeries and is often made at home for special occasions. Most versions of cherry cheesecake are a classic cheesecake made with cream cheese resting on a graham cracker crust and topped with cherry preserves. Alternate versions of the cheesecake include baking the cherries inside the cream cheese filling, topping the dessert with fresh cherries, or making the cheesecake sugar-free.
Most cherry cheesecakes start with the crust, which is similar to the crusts used for pies, tarts, and other desserts. Generally, chefs use a graham cracker crust for this type of cheesecake. This type of crust is made by crushing regular graham crackers and combining them with melted butter, creating a paste that can be formed into a crust. Other versions of this cheesecake use a chocolate crust, which has a darker color and richer flavor.
The base of any cheesecake is a large quantity of cream cheese blended with smaller quantities of white sugar, eggs, heavy cream, and butter. While both bake and no-bake varieties of cheesecake exist, most classic cheesecake recipes call for blending the ingredients together and baking them at a low temperature in a spring-form pan. Baking gives the cheesecake a tougher crust with a soft and creamy center, and is better suited for gourmet cheesecake varieties such as cherry cheesecake.
The topping separates cherry cheesecake from other specialty cheesecake varieties. Most recipes call for using cherry preserves, which are made either from scratch or purchased. Cherry preserves are whole cherries, pitted and boiled with white sugar and small amounts of flour. The boiling process sweetens the cherries and thickens the cherry juice, creating preserves. Generally, the preserves are added on top of a finished cheesecake and cooled in a refrigerator for several hours before serving.
Other varieties of cherry cheesecake call for either fresh cherries or for the cherry preserves to be baked into the cream cheese filling of the cheesecake, adding more cherry flavor to the dessert. Some bakeries also sell sugar-free cherry cheesecake. The sugar-free variety uses sugar substitutes in place of white sugar throughout the dessert, including the crust, filling, and cherry topping. While the sugar-free cherry cheesecake is a good option for diabetics, the dessert will still have a substantial number of calories and ample amounts of dairy product that might upset some sensitive stomachs.