While many people scream for ice cream during the summer, Chicagoans sing a different tune for another treat made with a beloved spin on a classic dessert.
Eli’s Cheesecake, a family-owned bakery based in Chicago known for its rich, creamy riff on the New York-style dessert, shared a few ideas with “Good Morning America.”
Maureen Schulman, whose father-in-law and restaurateur Eli Schulman started his eponymous bakery after concocting what he considered was the perfect cheesecake recipe for his famed steakhouse in Chicago, told “GMA” that the pastry team has developed frozen treats with cheesecake that can be made at home or ordered.
“The dipper is a frozen slice of cheesecake with a stick in it, dipped in chocolate, then toppings and frozen right away,” Schulman said of the first dessert idea.
The treat, which she said was first created for their booth at the Taste of Chicago food festival during a hot Chicago summer, can be stored in a cooler with some additional ice or a little dry ice.
Diana Moles, Eli’s senior vice president of innovation, and Laurel Boger, executive pastry chef of research and development, have decades of combined experience and shared their trade secrets for home cooks.
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“When you make or have a cheesecake sometimes it’s a lot, so we love the dippers because you just take a popsicle stick, freeze it, dip it in any kind of chocolate with oil in it or buy the magic shell, throw on candies or toppings,” Boger said. “Then what’s nice is you can pull one out when you’re ready to have a little treat in the heat of the summer.”
Moles added, “They’re best eaten frozen — and you can hold it in one hand.”
Both said dippers are “great to make with kids because it’s super easy and they love it — they can roll it or sprinkle their favorite candy on it.”
Whether fans purchase a dipper kit online from the bakery or whip up a batch at home with help from the Eli’s Cheesecake cookbook, Moles explained the easiest way to assemble it.
First, coat the partially frozen slice of cheesecake by “dipping it directly in chocolate that’s mixed with a tablespoon of vegetable oil, set inside a glass so you can see the heel of the cheesecake to let the excess drip off, set on a wax paper-lined cookie sheet and just before the chocolate completely sets, add all your sprinkles or toppings too. Then wrap in plastic and freeze until ready to eat.”
“Sky’s the limit with how creative you want to go with it,” Moles said of the flavor and topping combinations like “chocolate-covered strawberry with fruit frozen on top of the slice then dipped.”
Another concoction Bogert suggested is “a smush,” which can be made by alternating scoops of equal parts cheesecake and ice cream so the cohesive dessert ends up in a perfect sphere.
When it comes to making a cheesecake at home, Boger shared her top tip: “Temper all your ingredients.”
“Let it sit and come up to temperature so everything’s gonna blend beautifully together,” she explained of the various dairy ingredients, “and you’ll get a nice smooth batter with a more even bake since you don’t have a cold core.”
Moles added, “Scraping down the bowl with a spatula after each addition is also key” to help the batter thicken and to ensure a smooth consistency.
“When your batter is all done, you should have really light and fluffy, pale color so you know that it’s perfect — you can tell just by looking at the batter,” Moles said.
The Chicago-style dessert “broke all the rules” of cheesecake, according to Schulman’s daughter-in-law. “He did a fast hot bake, no water bath — which is completely different — that’s richer and creamier and not as dense with a shortbread crust. The top bakes before the middle and the steam trapped in between those layers cooks the batter and sort of souffles it.”
The final confection the team suggests are “cubies,” a small cube of the cheesecake that makes for a perfect mix-in for milkshakes, concretes and sundaes. Schulman said simply bake the cheesecake on a flat baking sheet and cut it in tiny cubes for toppings in other desserts.
From fruit-forward favorites like strawberry cheesecake or lemon with mixed berries, Eli’s offers a range of flavors to satisfy any summer sweet tooth. Check out even more in the 40th Anniversary edition cookbook that hits shelves this fall to debunk any cheesecake worries.
The family-owned business is also well-known for its celebratory cheesecakes, like a 2,000-pound cheesecake that made its way to the Capitol for Obama’s presidential inauguration and another that was presented to the cast of “Hamilton” for the show’s wrap party.
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