Cheesecake lovers have chance to taste treats at Evergreen Park Library

  • Written by Kelly White

cheesecake tasting photo 6-30

Photo by Kelly White

Melaine Herbert (from left), of Chicago; Evelyn Sendziak and her husband, Robert Sendziak, also from of Chicago, taste some cheesecake samples last Thursday night at the Evergreen Park Library for Maureen Schulman's presentation on Eli's Cheesecake.



People can now make the well-known Eli’s Cheesecake in the comfort of their own kitchens.

Maureen Schulman, author of “The Eli’s Cheesecake Cookbook: Remarkable Recipes from a Chicago Legend, “made an appearance, along with her husband, Marc, at the Evergreen Park Public Library, 9400 S. Troy Ave., Evergreen Park, last Thursday night to share her secrets.

“I hope readers gain confidence from this cookbook,” Schulman said. “Cheesecake is traditionally considered an intimidating dessert to make at home. If you do everything outlined in these recipes, the cheesecake will turn out perfectly. And if, for example, the cake cracks, the reader is now armed with the scientific knowledge to address the problem. I think our approach empowers the home cook to not only make a great cheesecake, but to understand the principles behind successful baking. The book provides a jumping-off point to be creative.”

The Eli’s Cheesecake Cookbook captures the glory of this globally celebrated interpretation of one of America’s favorite desserts. The book focuses strictly on the Chicago-style cheesecake as described by Schulman.

“Eli’s Cheesecake is different than most cheesecakes in terms of taste and texture,” she said. “If you like it, you’re a fan for life because nothing else tastes quite like Eli’s. It’s like a souffléed custard on the inside, a little firmer and golden on the top and sides, and not too sweet.”

Local residents were able to reminisce about their favorite cheesecake recipes from the past and learn some new recipes from Schulman, including learning the secrets from baking the same cakes from home that made Eli’s Cheesecake a national institution.

Participants were also able to indulge in free cheesecake sampling, with the cakes prepared by Schulman.

“Cheesecake is absolutely one of our very favorite desserts,” Evelyn Sendziak, of Chicago, said.

Sendziak attended the event with her husband, Robert Sendziak, who is also a huge cheesecake fan.

“I love everything about cheesecake,” he said.

Eli’s Cheesecake began more than 35 years ago, rising to prominence first as a featured item at one of Chicago’s most popular restaurants — Eli’s The Place for Steak, a classic steakhouse and pillar of the city’s culinary community that was also a noted celebrity watering hole. From Eli Schulman’s first cheesecake creation at Eli’s The Place for Steak to President Obama’s 50th birthday cake, this book details the storied history of one of the nation's most famous desserts.

The cookbook was published to coincide with the 35th anniversary of Eli’s Cheesecakes, which originated in Chicago.

Inside the cookbook, published in December of 2015, are 40 cheesecake recipes, including Original Plain, Chocolate Chip, Cinnamon Rum Raisin, Belgian Chocolate, Espresso, and Banana, plus 10 signature steakhouse dishes like the acclaimed Liver Eli. Schulman is often credited with putting “Chicago-style” cheesecake, richer and creamier than its New York counterpart, on the map. The book also includes Eli’s Trade Secrets and step- by-step photos.

“Baking is a science, so we felt the best way to approach the recipes was to address the issues that affect the outcome of baking a perfect cheesecake,” Schulman said.

Eli’s Cheesecake will be making an appearance at the Taste of Chicago this summer on Saturday, July 9.