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Top Polish Cheesecake Recipes

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Cheesecakes are a national dish of Poland and exist in every Eastern European cuisine. The cheese typically used is dry curd cheese, not cream cheese as in the United States. This results in a sometimes-grainy texture that does not melt on the tongue but is delicious in its own right. A creamy twaróg is beginning to be featured in Poland, but U.S.-style cream cheese also is becoming increasingly available. If you want to go the extra mile, you can make your own dry curd cheese. If you can't find dry curd cheese, ricotta cheese or drained small curd cottage cheese can be substituted, but the taste won't be authentic. Try experimenting with these cheesecake recipes.

1. Traditional Polish Cheesecake Recipe - Sernik

Polish Cheesecake
mesohungry/Flickr/CC BY 2.0
This recipe for traditional Polish cheesecake or sernik (SEHRR-neek) has a sweet pastry crust and a quark or farmers cheese filling, known as twaróg (TVAH-rroog). It is one of the most common desserts in Polish restaurants and at home.

2. Modern Polish Cheesecake Recipe - Sernik

Modern Polish Cheesecake
© Barbara Rolek licensed to About.com, Inc.
This recipe is for Polish cheesecake with a cookie crumb crust. The filling is very rich and needs no embellishment but, if you must, fresh fruit and whipped cream never hurt anything!

3. Cousin Ela's Polish Cheesecake with Dew Recipe - Sernik z Rosa

Beading on Meringue Looks Like Dew
© Barbara Rolek licensed to About.com, Inc.
This Polish cheesecake with dew recipe, or sernik z rosa (SEHR-neek z ROH-zah), is from my cousin Ela Gotter, who lives in Turek, Poland. The dessert gets its name from the beading or moisture drops, resembling dew, that form on top of the baked meringue. The addition of custard powder makes this a delightfully rich and creamy dessert. The custard powder can be purchased at many Eastern European delis, specialty stores or online. An alternative is to use instant vanilla pudding mix.

4. Polish Grandmother's Cheesecake Recipe - Sernik Babci

Polish Grandmother's Cake or Sernik Babci
© Barbara Rolek licensed to About.com, Inc.
This rustic recipe for Polish grandmother's cheesecake or sernik babci (sehrr-NEEK BAHB-chee) features mashed potatoes in the crust which is folded over the cheese filling like an envelope. Some recipes are baked like regular cheesecake without the folding.

5. Polish Coconut Cheesecake Recipe - Sernik Kokosowy

Polish Coconut Cheesecake or Sernik Kokosowy
© Barbara Rolek licensed to About.com, Inc.
This Polish coconut cheesecake recipe or sernik kokosowy (SEHR-neek kaw-kaw-SAW-vih) features a shortbread crust, creamy coconut-flavored interior, and is topped with a coconut crumble. For best results, the cheesecake should be refrigerated overnight before serving.

6. Polish Pumpkin Cheesecake & Toffee Sauce Recipe - Sernik Dyniowy z Sosem Toffee

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Toffee Sauce
© Libby's, used with permission.
Eastern Europeans love pumpkin and here I have combined it with dry curd or farmers cheese in this adaptation of the Libby's cheesecake recipe that uses cream cheese. This cheesecake can be served as is or with a sprinkling of crushed toffee candies or with a buttery toffee sauce and a dollop of whipped cream for extra decadence. The crust can be varied by using crushed shortbread, gingersnaps or chocolate cookies, or even a nut crust.

7. Polish Wheel Cake Recipe #1 - Kołacz Weselny

Polish Kołacz or Wheel Cake
© Barbara Rolek licensed to About.com, Inc.
Kołacz weselny (KOH-wahtch veh-SEL-nih) is a yeast-raised coffee cake similar in texture to a babka but made in a pan without a central hole, and with a sweet cheese filling. Here are step-by-step instructions for making kołacz.

8. Polish Wheel Cake Recipe #2 - Kołacz Weselny

Polish Wheel Cake or Kołacz
© Barbara Rolek licensed to About.com, Inc.
This recipe for Polish wheel cake or kołacz weselny (KOH-wahtch veh-SEL-nih) was often served at weddings in the old days. Today, it is a seldom-seen dessert with a reast-raised crust and is made differently by region. This version calls for a lattice topping over a cheese filling.

9. American-Style Cheesecake Recipe - Sernik Philadelphia or Sernik Nowojorski

American-Style Cheesecake Made With Philadelphia Cream Cheese
© Barbara Rolek licensed to About.com, Inc.
In much of Eastern Europe, cheesecakes are made with dry curd cheese or farmers cheese. But, over the past 50 years, dry curd cheese is sometimes replaced with cream cheese. The resulting American-style cheesecake is known simply as Philadelphia after the popular store brand of cream cheese.

10. Polish Orange Gelatin Cheesecake Recipe - Sernik Na Zimno

Polish Gelatin Cheesecake or Sernik na Zimno
© Kraft Foods, used with permission.
In Poland, in addition to traditional sernik or cheesecake, no-bake cheesecakes and those that are baked but have a fruited gelatin layer on top are very popular where they are known as sernik na zimno (literally, cold cheesecake). The fruit and gelatin flavors can be varied to suit your taste (strawberries and strawberry gelatin are common).

11. Gelatin-Topped No-Bake Polish Cheesecake Recipe - Sernik Na Zimno

Gelatin-Topped No-Bake Cheesecake
© Barbara Rolek licensed to About.com, Inc.
Not even the crust is baked in this gelatin-topped no-bake cheesecake recipe. This falls into the Polish category of cheesecakes known as sernik na zimno. It differs from the Orange Gelatin Cheesecake recipe, above, in that not even the filling is baked.

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