Perfecting the Science of Cheesecakes

Dessert Lab  - Assorted Petite Cheesecakes“Cooking is like love — it should be entered into with abandon or not at all.”

As much as I adore this quote, I must admit cooking is part love and part science.

For some dishes you can wing it. While other recipes, you need to recognize the reactions to blend ingredients.

This especially holds true for baking, where incorrect measurements or a misunderstanding between baking soda and baking powder can prove disastrous.

Even so, have you ever heard of a business dedicating itself to the pursuit of dessert science?

Such a place exists in Newport Beach, California. It’s called the Dessert Lab.

I heard of them through Groupon. Intrigued by the name, I perused their site and learned the brain behind their culinary creations is considered the Director of Research & Development. Their specialty is cheesecake.

Based on their sample menu, I was sold.

I stopped by on a weekday. There were six cheesecake flavors to choose from.

The Dessert Lab also experiments with ways to make sweets delicious AND healthy, by using natural ingredients with nutritional value. Hence each description had a Healthful Ingredient listing. This corresponded with their enormous wall of notes that detailed the benefits.

Normally $3 – $4 each, my Groupon allowed for six petite cheesecakes.

Perfect, I thought. I could try all of the day’s flavors.

Since this was a unique opportunity, I decided to alter my rhythm – rank the flavors from most liked to least, and then give an overall rating.

Dessert Lab - Petite CheesecakesWith fork in hand and a glass of milk to cleanse my palate between rounds, I began.

  1. Nutella Peanut Butter is a layer of peanut butter cheesecake atop a thicker, but lighter in texture layer of Nutella cheesecake. When the flavors combine, the peanut butter was more prominent. Still, there’s magic. I was hooked at first bite.
  2. Chocolate Ganache cheesecake is infused with high quality chocolate and then coated with chocolate ganache. I relished this cheesecake in nibbles. The chocolate cheesecake was velvety. Along with the silky ganache, it was a luscious experience.
  3. Chocolate Chip mixes their classic cheesecake with mini semi-sweet chocolate chips. It’s a simple combination with rich results. There’s just enough chocolate to enhance the smooth, vanilla cheesecake. 
  4. Apple Cinnamon combines their traditional cheesecake with fresh apples and cinnamon. Though the spice was almost indiscernible, I enjoyed the random bits of apple in this cheesecake. 
  5. Gluten-Free Classic is their traditional cheesecake with a walnut crust instead of their signature cookie crust. I have no gluten restrictions, so I tried it simply out of curiosity. I confess this cheesecake was satisfying. I liked the nutty taste of the fine crust and the decadent depth of the filling.
  6. Blueberry is their classic cheesecake swirled with (you guessed it) blueberries. Though I’m a berry lover, this was the most disappointing. The flavor was too subtle. Even with a fresh blueberry chunk, I was underwhelmed. Nonetheless, I finished it. Their secret cookie crust was delightful.

I give the Dessert Lab 4 out of 5 stars. Their petite cheesecakes are 2-inch bites of bliss without making you feel too guilty.

I don’t always understand it, but if science means better desserts, I’m all for it… Just let me know when it’s time to sample.

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