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There are lots of American cheese cake recipes which call for cream cheese. And I don't know about cream cheese in the USA, but in Europe, cream cheese is salted. It may be not as salty as, say, feta, but the salt is definitely noticeable. As a result, my cheesecake's taste is a combination of sweet and salty.

Do you have any ideas how to solve the problem? Of course, it would be perfect if you can tell me a brand of cream cheese without salt which I can get in Germany. But if not, I would like to hear ideas about how to make the salt less noticeable. Adding more sugar or using a different kind of cheese (e.g. mascarpone) are not an option. Or if it is normal for a cheesecake to taste that way (I have never eaten a genuine American cheesecake), please tell me so I can stop worrying about my cakes.

Also, I have observed that a cheesecake tastes less salty after a day or two. Is this real, or just my imagination (or me getting accustomed to the taste)? If true, what causes this to happen?

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My wife makes excellent cheesecake, and I don't find it salty. The standard American cream cheese is Philadelphia, which has 105mg of sodium per 28g serving. Is the sodium content of the cream cheeses you've used higher? –  mjobrien Oct 4 '11 at 16:22
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In the US, Neufchatel is a common substitution for cream cheese. Would you be able to get that? –  KatieK Oct 4 '11 at 16:53
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Cheesecake with Neufchatel has a much different flavor in my experience. Unless the cheesecake has very, very strong flavors otherwise - its not a substitute for me. –  rfusca Oct 4 '11 at 17:50
    
if you're in or near a major city, you should be able to get Philadelphia brand cream cheese in the food section of your Kaufhof. I have seen it at Galeria Kaufhof and the KaDeWe food halls in Berlin, also in Hamburg. Although as someone who is neither German nor American, I personally think German Kasekuchen is far superior to American cheesecake! :) –  KimbaF Oct 5 '11 at 19:37
    
There is also the option of using a ricotta base for your cheesecake, although it's less "American". –  Martha F. Oct 10 '11 at 2:13

3 Answers 3

I would 'cut' a standard cream cheese like Philadelphia with mascarpone, which is essentially triple cream with a cream cheese-like texture.

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Now thats an idea I can get behind. –  rfusca Oct 4 '11 at 20:19
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The cheesecake recipe I use calls for roughly equal quantities of Burgos cheese, cream, and yoghurt, which is a similar idea. –  Peter Taylor Oct 5 '11 at 10:09

As Katie mentions, Neufchatel is a good substitute. Granted, what follows is just based on the sodium content, and may or may not account for the extent to which the cheese tastes "salty"; however, I think if you play around with other brands you may find the right one.

Philadelphia Cream Cheese is generally marketed as the essential Cheesecake making cream cheese for Americans; but if it tastes salty here is some nutritional data:

  • There are 125mg sodium per ounce of cream cheese, Philadelphia brand. Their "1/3 Less Fat" and fat free varieties have 120mg and 190mg, respectively. Their "Light Cream Cheese" spread has only 66mg (in 25g, 28g/oz). So building a Philadelphia Cheesecake may not be the best brand.

However, for 2 tablespoons you have other brands to consider:

Cream Cheese (Plain):

  • Very Low Sodium – 35mg or less:
    • Nancy's (35mg)
  • Low Sodium – 140mg or less:
    • Bruegger's: Plain (85mg), Plain, Light (90mg)
    • Lucerne (Safeway) Whipped, 2 tbsp (65mg)
    • Morning Select Whipped, 2 tbsp (60mg)
    • Mozzarella Co — has an unsalted and lightly salted cream cheese
    • Richfood Whipped, 2 tbsp (65mg)
    • TempTee Soft, 2 tbsp (70mg)

Cream Cheese (Flavored):

  • Low Sodium – 140mg or less:
    • Bruegger's: Strawberry (70mg), Honey Walnut (85mg), Wildberry (85mg)
    • Crystal Farms Blueberry or Raspberry (100mg)
    • Marzetti Fruit Dip (85mg)
    • Philadelphia: [Whipped] Cinnamon 'n Brown Sugar (55mg), Mixed Berry (55mg), Blueberry (110mg), Swirls Peaches 'n Cream (110mg)

Hopefully they have any of those brands in Germany for you.

As for masking the saltiness of the cheese itself, you might try a variant on your crust. I do not know if you use a standard pastry crust or not, but a graham cracker or oreo crust might go a good distance to distracting those salt buds by making a raucous for the sweet buds. I am thinking of spartan solutions, so trying to avoid veering too far away from a plain cheesecake, no toppings added.

Also, are you using unsalted butter in the recipe? You could try using a less processed sugar if you are using white sugar, or switching out the white sugar entirely for an alternative sweetener that is subtle enough to match; I am thinking that despite it's nosiness, honey might make for a decent pairing as it has a bit of mouth feel to distract from the salt.

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If he's in Europe, he's almost certainly using unsalted butter; but most cheesecake recipes don't contain any butter (except for the crust), so that's no help. The problem is almost certainly the cream cheese: in Europe, this tends to be a savory sandwich spread type of thing, possibly with little acquaintance with actual milk products. –  Marti Oct 5 '11 at 14:07

You'll have to make your own cream cheese from scratch. It's a hassle to make, but you get to control what goes into your cheesecake.

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We're a cooking site, not a health/nutrition site, so I'll go ahead and edit your answer down to the relevant parts. –  Jefromi Aug 3 at 18:24

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