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A cheesecake ode to the New Year

Out with the old and in with the new. After his Christmas cheesecakes were such a hit, I couldn’t help but challenge the Cheesecake Heaven chef, Jameel Lightbourn, to see what he could create for New Year’s.

He thought hard, but it didn’t take him long, because he knew that whatever he did had to include bubbly, because nothing speaks to New Year’s better than champagne and sparkling wine. With that as his inspiration, Lightbourn came up with his New Year’s Sparkler Cheesecake made with Fresita, a Chilean sparkling wine flavored with strawberries; a strawberry and champagne cheesecake made with Moet & Chandon; and a roasted cinnamon apple tossed in apple cider atop a vanilla bean cheesecake.

“Every New Year’s celebration has to come along with some kind of bubbly — whether it’s alcoholic or not — champagne, cider, sparkling wine … they all do the trick along with strawberries,” said Lightbourn. “And when you think of champagne, you automatically think of strawberries, chocolates, nuts, things with luxurious flavors, so I couldn’t help but pair the wine and the champagne with the cheese in some way shape or form, and by doing that I came up with these cheesecakes.”

Lightbourn says the difficulty wasn’t coming up with the flavor combinations, but figuring out how he would go about it was more challenging.

“It was more like marrying the flavors in a way where they don’t seem to overpower each other.”

The new year is all about moving forward and putting everything in the past behind you, and Chef Jameel’s New Year’s inspired cheesecakes he said are just that — new and fresh and a great dessert to start the new year with.

“With the New Year’s Sparkler Cheesecake, people can expect a rich, not too strong wine flavor with a hint of strawberry, the smoothness of the cream cheese and white chocolate together allowing them to experience something not to overwhelming after a dinner, but enough to cause them to relax and just enjoy. Strawberry and champagne is an automatic marriage, so in the champagne and strawberry cheesecake I used Moet & Chandon, so it’s a cheesecake for people that don’t want a fruity flavor. Moet & Chandon is classic champagne, and pairs nicely with the softer, fresher, strawberry. In the apple cider with roasted apples cheesecake, I put cinnamon in it to give it an earthy taste. We tossed in apple cider to give it that bubbly fizz and then paired it with the vanilla bean cheesecake.”

For a bit of a twist, he has also stuffed cheesecake filling into jumbo chocolate dipped strawberries, for another decadent delicious New Year’s treat. He pipes cheesecake filling into cored out jumbo strawberries that have a layer of nuts in the bottom, then dipped the strawberry into chocolate and rolled in walnuts.

He’s also offering dipped chocolate cheesecake pops that are a little bigger than bite-sized. They’re actually two miniature cheesecakes sandwiched together. The cheesecake pops actually have graham cracker crusts at the top and bottom, so you actually get a slice of cheesecake on a stick, surrounded by the chocolate of your choice, whether milk or dark chocolate.

“Cheesecakes are a perfect finish to your meal, or to have in hand as you toast bringing in the new year, because it doesn’t diminish your expectations after a night of wonderful flavors.  It allows you to end your night with just as big of a celebration as the fireworks and bottle popping.

If you missed out on his fabulous Christmas cheesecake offerings, with New Year’s on Sunday, you still have time to order some Cheesecake Heaven decadence as Lightbourn will take his last orders on Saturday by 10 p.m. so that you can have a New Year’s inspired cheesecake for your celebration.

As usual, all of his cheesecakes are available in his nine-inch double deep size that produces a three-inch high cake, to a regular sized pan for people who don’t like their cake too thick. Or, you can opt for his most popular bite-sized offering that retails at 22 pieces for $30.  To have a piece of Cheesecake Heaven at your New Year’s celebration, telephone 357-7712 or 341-3111 or email Jameel



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