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I have a chocolate chip cheesecake recipe I have made several times before without problem. My mother's recipe says to use a particular brand of cream cheese. I thought this was nonsense. Anyways, when I went to the store, they didn't have Philadelphia brand, so I bought whatever they had, something organic such and such brand.

The results looked disastrous. Supposed to cook for an hour, but took 1hr 40 minutes. Didn't have the same look at all. And I was about ready to throw it out. But in the end tasted excellent! If this was food network, I would have gotten tons of points off for look and texture though, because it is supposed to have the chocolate chips evenly distributed brought it, and they seemed to have fall to the bottom while baking.

my question:

Why would brand of cream cheese affect the recipe so much? It seems unreasonable. I also don't think it's the oven because I baked a pie last week and it turned out great.

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Do you still have the package? Does it have the same fat content? Did it seem like it was the same texture/thickness? – Jefromi Jan 10 at 18:24
Nah, but I'll find out and post it when i go back to the store in the next day or two – Stan Shunpike Jan 10 at 18:29
My wife brought home some spreadable "cream cheese product" that was branded the same as normal creme cheese. She didn't notice that it's not really creme cheese, and I made sure to point out that it's not for cooking with. – JDługosz Jan 11 at 9:09
up vote 14 down vote accepted

Philadelphia Brand ingredients: Pasteurized Milk and Cream, Whey Protein Concentrate, Salt, Carob Bean Gum, Xanthan Gum, Cheese Culture.

Organic Valley Cream Cheese (don't know which brand you used) ingredients: Organic Pasteurized Milk and Organic Cream, Cheese Culture, Salt, Organic Locust Bean Gum.

Nancys Organic Cream Cheese ingredients: Organic cream, Organic nonfat dry milk, L. acidophilus, B. bifidum and 4 strains of Lactic cultures, salt. <-- no gum in this one

The fat specs for all 3 brands are about the same.

I'd say it's any combination of:

  • the gums used
  • did the manufacturer use milk and cream processed through ultra high temperature (UHT) pasteurization
  • what is the moisture content (hard to determine from a label)
  • maybe human error by the Baker??
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Yes, we used organic valley. – Stan Shunpike Jan 10 at 21:05
And its very possible we made an error – Stan Shunpike Jan 10 at 21:05
This is most likely it. A commercial bakery I work at had this happen when a dairy supplier switched brands of buttermilk on us. The second brand had different thickeners, and we could never achieve the same texture as they always retained too much moisture. – SourDoh Jan 10 at 23:36
Another possibilit is the extra whey protein added to Philadelphia. – David Richerby Jan 11 at 0:15
A good reason to use clean product where available, and add binding agents yourself. (I'm somewhat appalled that a commercial bakery does not do that!) – Raphael Jan 11 at 7:28

The recipe might accidentally rely on the presence or absence of a thickener, gelling agent, stabiliser, emulsifier, or pH modifier that is contained in certain brands. Or, it could rely on the exact moisture content of that brand, or on modalities of how it was processed - homogenization of dairy ingredients used, heat treatment, particle size of solids contained in it...

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There are MANY recipes that rely on using a specific brand of a product. Flours are different, cheeses are different. Creams are different. All kinds of stuff may be different. – Escoce Jan 10 at 21:45
As a learner, I hate things with such additives in ingredients with a passion. Less for health reasons, but for them easily creating an "apparent recipe" <> "actual recipe" dichotomy.... – rackandboneman Jan 11 at 0:40
@rackandboneman yeah! This is unbelievable! In some sense, recipes need a certain level of minimal substitutability or it becomes hard to make it. – Stan Shunpike Jan 11 at 4:42
With a family or internet recipe, you can't really fault the recipe writer though for being unwilling to validate/adapt the recipe to various ingredient brands and qualities... it is quite a more annoying matter that such imprecisions often make it into cookbooks that cost real money :) – rackandboneman Jan 11 at 9:23

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