A Savagely Delightful Cheesecake Burlesque Review

What could be more enticing on a February evening than the prospect of the Cheesecake Burlesque Review? This eye-popping stage show consists of women from Victoria who have regular day jobs but ramp up the camp at night. The Cheesecake Burlesque Review plays in Invermere March 26. When will we see them here? Photo courtesy of the Cheesecake Burlesque Review
Food Editor Leslie Savage

What could be more enticing on a February evening than the prospect of the Cheesecake Burlesque Review? This eye-popping stage show consists of women from Victoria who have regular day jobs but ramp up the camp at night. As part-time entertainers, they have strutted their stuff as far away as Berlin, and have won awards in Las Vegas for what’s been described as their “high energy acts, stand out performers, comedic timing, seductiveness and girl-next door accessibility.” Audiences (mainly couples and women) say that the ‘girls’ have a wonderful time on stage, and that their comedic exuberance is infectious. See www.cheesecakeburlesque.com for a few more gorgeous photos of this group, one of whose aims is to raise funds for breast cancer awareness through the sale of their pink ribbon pasties.

When will we see them in Revelstoke, is my question? Not until a new theatre is built, as their technical requirements include a warm dry dressing room and storage for props immediately offstage. But their show has sold out in Nelson, Kelowna, Kamloops, Prince Rupert and Kitimat, so we just have to hope they’ll still be touring when we have a theatre. Who knows? Maybe The Revelstoke Current will bring them to town. They play in Invermere on March 26, if you absolutely can’t wait.

Meanwhile, we’ll have to settle for cheesecake of the gastronomic variety, and I’ve been experimenting to find a recipe that is as always super delicious, but also one that is simple, contains no packaged ingredients including graham cracker crumbs, and is what I consider “real” cheesecake, that is the New York variety without gelatine, puffy eggs, or fake whipped anything. You could make it flourless by using rice flour shortbread for a crust. The cake is just cheese, eggs and a little sugar, so it’s not too sweet. And purely “scratch,” as Kendra at Mountain Meals describes food from real ingredients with no packages in sight.

Google “cheesecake” for about 40 images that will give you ideas about how to decorate, or finish, your cheesecake. I’ve used raspberry jelly melted as a glaze over fresh blueberries, to complement the lemon-flavoured crust of this recipe. Mango slices are also fabulous, with apricot jam spiked with mango balsamic (Crescendo) for the glaze.

The recipe itself is a simplified combo version of Three Cities of Spain cheesecake from Gourmet, minus the sour cream topping, and a very old New York recipe from my much-thumbed and very tattered Rattner’s Deli Cookbook. I’ve left out the flour, cottage cheese, cream and sour cream, for a version that almost qualifies as a low GI Biggest Loser dessert candidate. I’m doing the weight loss program at Trans Canada Fitness, and though I didn’t come close to the 5 and 10 pound first week weight losers, I did still lose a little more than a pound in five days, despite eating one piece of this cheesecake on every single one of those days.

Cheesecake preferences run long and strong, and your own might be for the creamy custardy variety. Who can argue? But you might want to experiment with this one anyway—my book club, the arbiters of tastes literary and culinary in my world—loved it. And like the reviews of the Cheesecake Burlesque Review, there sure is something sexy and enticing about real cheesecake.

This is cheesecake with blueberry topping, all ready to slice. Leslie Savage photo


• large mixing bowl

• a springform pan 9-10 inches in diameter or two 6 inch pans. If you don’t have a springform pan, a deepish glass baking dish is preferable to a shallow pie plate. Fnding one the right size is the trick. If you end up with leftover crust, make little cookies and bake them for ten minutes; left-over cake cheesecake batter can be baked separately in muffin tins, set in a pan of water (what’s called a bain-marie).

• I use a Kitchen Aid mixer and a food processor, but lacking these tools, a strong arm with a stout wooden spoon and a wire whisk will do.

Cookie Crust
¼ cup unsalted butter
1 cup white sugar
1 tbsp vegetable oil
the zest of 1 lemon
1 large egg
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt

Cream together by hand or in a food processor the butter, sugar, oil, lemon zest and juice and the egg. When thoroughly integrated and creamy, add the flour, baking soda and salt and mix until the dough holds together.
Butter the springform pan, and press the dough by handfuls into the bottom and onto the sides of the pan. The dough should be as thin and even as you can get it by pressing with your fingers, especially along the corner where bottom joins sides—otherwise you get a big hunk of cookie dough crust that’s too rich to eat. It doesn’t matter if the dough doesn’t come right to the top of the pan—some people only coat the bottom, to give the cheesecake some stability when serving. Set aside while you preheat the oven to 350 degree F and make the cheesecake batter.

Use leftovers to make small cookies. Bake for just 10 minutes.

1 ½ lbs cream cheese (3 ½ packages of 750 grams)
4 very large or 5 medium eggs (to make 1 cup of eggs)
1 cup and 1 tbsp sugar
2 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp vanilla
Put everything into the large bowl of your mixer and run on low for the first half minute until everything is mixed, then increase speed to high and mix until the batter is very smooth and creamy. If you don’t have a mixer, do this by hand—it will take a while to bash down the cream cheese, but eventually it does mix into the egg and sugar, then you take to it with a wire whisk and beat like mad.
Pour the batter into the prepared springform pan. Put the pan on a cookie sheet to catch any drips and bake at 350 F for 45-55 minutes. The cheesecake will rise above the level of the pan initially, but will sink back down as it cools.

Remove from oven and let the cheesecake cool, then, leaving it in the springform pan, refrigerate for at least 6 hours before serving. Later, keep leftovers in the fridge.

I’ve had good luck with this one not cracking—one of five did, and I don’t know why. In any case, the topping serves two purposes, one of which is to cover any cracks that appear. The other of course is to make the whole thing super decadently scrumptious.

Melt jam or jelly for a glaze, and pour it over the fresh fruit, for a succulent topping. Even more decadent is chocolate sauce and raspberry coulis drizzled artistically over the top. (I find this drizzle process more of a challenge than it appears, and I’m diffident about chocolate on cheesecake, but some people love this combo.)

Blueberry with raspberry glaze

When the cake is completely cool, arrange fresh blueberries over the top. Melt in a small saucepan a cup of raspberry jelly. Pour overtop the blueberries and refrigerate.

Mango with apricot glaze
When cake is cool, top with mango slices. I used frozen cubes and sliced them, then arranged the small slices in a flower pattern atop the cheesecake. Melt in a small saucepan 1 cup apricot jam. Add 1 tbsp mango balsamic vinegar and mix well. Pour over the mango slices and distribute evenly. Refrigerate.