The History of Uncle Anthony’s Cheesecake

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Uncle Anthony (left) and me — January 2017

Well over thirty years ago, during the annual family get together on Christmas Day, Uncle Anthony brought over a cheesecake to go along with all the other delightful desserts of cookies, cakes, strueffulli (tiny squares of dough, deep fried and smothered in honey), and whatever else the table could handle until it was completely covered. There are probably as many cheesecake recipes as there are households, but to my wife and I, this was the absolute best cheesecake we’d ever had. Mind you, I had access to the “World Famous Baby Watson” cheesecake right around the corner from New York’s Penn Station where I worked, and Uncle Anthony’s Cheesecake put it to shame!!

Luckily, my uncle shared his recipe with my wife, and every time she made it, everyone agreed it was simply the best. So she decided to submit it to Bon Appetit Magazine as Uncle Anthony’s Cheesecake, since they occasionally published reader recipes the chefs there thought worthy to share with the world in their monthly publication. We were thrilled when they actually did publish it; now my uncle’s recipe could be shared with the world!! Fast forward many years later, well after the introduction of the internet, we did a Google search to see if Uncle Anthony’s Cheesecake would come up, and were amazed that it was listed under the Bon Appetit article, along with countless other hits throughout the world from folks who had enjoyed his recipe!!

A few years back, my wife decided to add a sauce to go with the cheesecake. Made from butter (a lot), brown sugar (a lot), and bourbon, this sauce took the cheesecake to another level, so much so that a good friend of ours claimed, “You could put this sauce on Dog S#!t and it would taste good!”

In order to be a bit healthier and get away from all that butter in the sauce, last year we tried to combine the top from Crème Brûlée with Uncle Anthony’s Cheesecake. Just after taking it from the refrigerator and adding some sugar to the top, all that’s needed is a propane torch to melt the sugar to form the hard crust. But extreme care should be taken to ensure you don’t burn down the house, or anything nearby!! (see video, I no longer have fingerprints on two fingers). Now instead of one large cheesecake, my wife makes several much smaller ones to have on occasion, rather than having to finish it within a few days. That’s what made it easier to add the sugar crust to it; they’re made to order.

I’m sure by now there are countless iterations of the recipe along with many other additions to it like the Bourbon Sauce or Sugar Shell, that folks have added to make it more personal to their own family. But Uncle Anthony’s Cheesecake remains the basis for the joy it brings to so many across the globe. Thanks Uncle Anthony!!


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