Did I Create the Cheesecake of the Year?

About 1 1/2 months ago, I mentioned on Facebook that I was creating a cheesecake recipe to enter into Philly Canada’s Cheesecake of the Year contest. I asked you to vote on your favourite photo to help me decide which picture to submit with my recipe. And let me tell you, you guys are good! Out of 93 entries, the folks at Kraft Kitchens chose 5 cheesecakes toΒ  participate in a cheesecake bake-off in Toronto, Ontario. I am thrilled to tell you that my cheesecake, a gluten free Maple Butter Tart Cheesecake, was chosen as one of the 5 finalists!


Gluten Free Maple Butter Tart Cheesecake by The Baking Beauties

Next week I’m off to Toronto to prepare my cheesecake at the Kraft Kitchens. Normally I’m a very low-key, low-maintenance, content-to-stay-at-home-in-my-PJ-pants kinda gal. But this upcoming trip has my mind filled with thoughts like:

What should I wear?

Do these shoes go with those capris?

Should I colour my hair before I go? It’s been a while, and there’s a lot of white on the sides again.

I should get some Spanx. What am I thinking?!? That’s insane!Β  That would be torturous! Note to self: get on the elliptical more so that the next time you have to go meet a bunch of strangers, Spanx won’t cross your mind.

Oh, and – Cheesecake.


Gluten Free Maple Butter Tart Cheesecake by The Baking Beauties


Cheesecake has been on my mind a lot the last few weeks. Mentally, I’ve prepared my cake dozens of times. In reality, four practice runs have occurred. That’s about 40 slices of cheesecake. Hence the thought of Spanx. πŸ˜‰ I kid (sort of).Β  And each and every time I make this cheesecake my kids tell me how great the cheesecake is – my family is my biggest fan. If it weren’t for them, I would be filled with self-doubt by now.

Did I create the Cheesecake of the Year?

According to my family – Yes! According to Philly Canada? In a week we’ll know the answer to that.

I’d love for you to follow along with my adventures to Toronto on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

Before I head to Toronto, I’d love to hear your tips & tricks to bake the perfect cheesecake. All advice is welcome! Please? I’d love to have an arsenal of great cheesecake tips to help me through this crazy little journey. Let’s win this – or at least have a great time trying!


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53 Responses to Did I Create the Cheesecake of the Year?

  1. Marlene July 23, 2014 at 9:10 pm #

    Congratulations on making the finals! Your cheesecake looks like a winner to me. I’m glad you gave up on the Spanx idea – for a wedding maybe, but a cooking competition? Nah. If it helps, remember people won’t be there to look at you — they won’t be able to take their eyes off that cheesecake! Good luck and enjoy the experience

    • Jeanine July 24, 2014 at 6:10 am #

      Thanks, Marlene! I’m looking forward to the adventure (and seeing the Kraft Kitchens!).

    • Jessica Canfield July 24, 2014 at 3:31 pm #

      I am so proud of you! I can’t stand cheese cake because I don’t like cream cheese, but It looks soooooooooo good!!! You are an amazing woman,in the kitchen and out, t seems. I will send up a prayer for you right now for God’s nudge to the judges in your favor. I always get such compliments on the food I make from your recipes. Keep up the good work and thanks for making cooking fun again. Jessica

  2. GwenH July 23, 2014 at 10:16 pm #

    I’ve never made a real cheesecake so I can’t offer any advice on making the perfect one, but I just want to sat congratulations on making in into the finals and your cheesecake looks delicious! Wishing you all the best in the final competition and I hope you win Cheesecake of the year!!

    • Jeanine July 24, 2014 at 6:11 am #

      Gwen – you’ve never made ANY cheesecake? Not even a no-bake? Hmm… I’ll have to do something to convince you to change that. πŸ˜‰ Thanks for the well wishes, I appreciate it!

      • GwenH July 26, 2014 at 12:45 am #

        Well yes I have made the no bake ones… like cherry cha-cha etc. but that’s about as good as it get for my cheesecake baking. I love New York Cheesecake and Strawberry Drizzle..I am sure you can convince me to make one…lol

  3. MsGF July 24, 2014 at 7:13 am #

    Congrats!!! So exciting. I bet you will be the winner, your cheesecake is original and looks heavenly. I might have to try it, we are huge cheesecake fans at my house. But I’ll need to wait until fall when all the family is home, or I will eat it all and have Spanx cross my mind to – LOL!

    Good Luck – Fingers Crossed!

    • Jeanine July 24, 2014 at 7:38 am #

      Haha MsGF! Don’t want that to happen! πŸ˜‰ It’s best suited for fall/Christmas anyway. πŸ˜‰ When there’s more mouths to feed.

  4. Nancy July 24, 2014 at 7:25 am #

    Congratulations!! We will be cheering for you!

  5. Jenny July 24, 2014 at 7:37 am #

    Congrats on getting this far! What a great opportunity for you! Enjoy yourself! (And, yes, leave the spandex at home) have a great trip!

    • Jeanine July 24, 2014 at 7:40 am #

      Thanks, Jenny! It’s amazing to make it to the top 5! Wow!

  6. Colleen July 24, 2014 at 8:07 am #

    Congratulations ! I’m rooting for you as well. We have enjoyed all of your recipes I have tried – I’m sure the cheesecake will be a winner ! Yeah, forget the spandex but a professional hair coloring is always a good investment for me.

    • Jeanine July 24, 2014 at 8:11 am #

      Thanks, Colleen!! Hoping the judges like it as well. :) I like to think of my white hair as ‘natural highlighting” πŸ˜‰

  7. Denise July 24, 2014 at 8:28 am #

    That is so fantastic, Jeanine! Such a wonderful and fun opportunity for you! I love your cheesecake version – I think it is THE winner of a recipe for Real Women of Philadelphia. Enjoy all the things they have in store for you – the spa day sounds divine! Above all, have fun! And best of luck to you from all of us who appreciate what you do for us with all of your wonderful gluten free recipes.

    • Jeanine July 24, 2014 at 8:56 am #

      Thanks, Denise! After entering their contests for 3 years, I’m finally a finalist! lol Looking forward to it, and sharing it via social media too. :)

  8. Judy July 24, 2014 at 8:45 am #

    This cheesecake looks amazing. I love to make cheesecakes and have also worked at perfecting them.

    Since you asked for tips – and the competition will be fierce – the outside edge of the cheesecake looks a bit dark. Wondering if your springform pan is a dark one? A bright shiny pan produces lighter edges.

    Wishing you all the best!!

    • Jeanine July 24, 2014 at 8:58 am #

      Thanks, Judy! My pan isn’t dark, not sure why that happened. The test runs I’ve done since aren’t as dark, and I have no idea what kind of pan I’ll have in toronto, but will definitely keep that in mind! I appreciate it!!
      Any tips on no cracks? I know not over beating, but sometimes, that just doesn’t seem to be enough.

      • Beverly, Pastry Chef July 24, 2014 at 9:35 am #

        Cracks? Never. I do not use a springform pan. I always bake cheesecakes in a water bath in a deep(3-4 inches) heavy layer cake pan, with the temperature never above 300. A cheesecake with 4-5 8 oz. packages of cream cheese will take about 90 minutes.
        I spray the inside of the pan with cooking spray to adhere a long wide strip of parchment all around the side and add a parchment circle on the bottom. If the crust is prebaked I add the side parchment after baking and before filling. This allows me to bake and then chill the cheesecake before unmolding the next day. To unmold, I spin the pan over low heat on the stove top until I can tell the butter in the crust has melted enough to loosen the cheesecake. Then spray a piece of wax or parchment paper(to prevent sticking the top) and lay it over the cheesecake. Place a flat cookie sheet on the parchment.(Have ready your serving plate or cakeboard.) With courage, holding the cheesecake and cookie sheet with both hands, flip. You may need to shake the pan to allow the cheesecake to slip out. Remove the parchment circle from the crust before inverting cheesecake onto cakeboard or serving dish.
        If the competition is all in one day, you may not be able to do this. To prevent cracks, cheesecake must not experience drafts or contrast in temperature when it comes from the oven, so lay a cookie sheet over the pan; or cool cheesecake in the oven with the door open for the first 30-60 minutes.
        I wish you great success. You certainly nailed the appearance and flavor with your take off on the Canadian Butter Tart!

        • Jeanine July 24, 2014 at 9:46 am #

          Lots of GREAT advice, Beverly! Thanks for all the tips!

      • Judy July 24, 2014 at 9:52 am #

        A tip for no cracks – carefully and slowly (may need a bit of an up and down motion) run a very thin bladed knife around the edge of the cheesecake to release it from the pan as soon as it comes out of the oven. If the knife seems to be sticking spray with oven spray or lightly grease it. This allows the cheesecake to settle more evenly – cracks come if it settles with the edges attached to the pan.

  9. Lucy July 24, 2014 at 9:54 am #

    Congrats Jeanine! I hope you win! I wouldn’t worry about the spandex leave those at home!
    Have fun!

    • Jeanine July 24, 2014 at 1:15 pm #

      Thanks Lucy! I’m looking forward to it!

  10. Joanna July 24, 2014 at 9:56 am #

    Fantastic! Congratulations — no doubt you will win with this amazing and original creation.

  11. PeggyLynn July 24, 2014 at 10:09 am #

    I agree, Spanx and cheesecake should never be said in the same sentence. It looks awesome.

    • Jeanine July 24, 2014 at 1:15 pm #

      Haha, PeggyLynn – Never again! πŸ˜€

  12. Lana July 24, 2014 at 10:25 am #

    Looks fantastic Jeanine! The key to any competition is to get your nerves under control. So my suggestion is to think of your most relaxing place and mentally put yourself there as you are cooking. Turn off all of the “noise” of everyone else there, cameras, etc and just be in the moment of your baking and you’ll be great. And a good dose of watching Julie and Julia before you go is a must. Don’t forget that everyone struggles with overcoming these things and isn’t quite sure if the world hates them or not. It doesn’t matter….if they see the real you, they will LOVE you! And mark my words….regardless of the outcome, great things will come from this. Be open to every new adventure!

    • Jeanine July 24, 2014 at 1:16 pm #

      Thanks, Lana! I’ve been trying to be open to opportunities – it’s lead to many great things, so I’ll continue to do it. :)

  13. Theresa July 24, 2014 at 10:43 am #

    Congratulations on your accomplishment! I like white hair…and personally I like a purple streak in the front…seeing as I am mostly white with a little grey, that works for me…my version of the blue hair grandma!!

    Good luck in Toronto

    • Jeanine July 24, 2014 at 1:17 pm #

      Oh, Theresa, I wish I had the nerve to do that with my hair! I’d love to, but not sure it’d look right on me. πŸ˜› Thanks!

  14. Georgina July 24, 2014 at 10:57 am #

    I LOVE cheesecake and cant wait to try this one!!! My only tip it the one about leaving the cake in the oven to cool with the door slightly open. I personally like the cracks, so I don’t usually worry about them. The cracks often allow for more topping to seep into the cake!

    • Jeanine July 24, 2014 at 1:17 pm #

      Very true, Georgina! Thanks for the tip!

  15. Beverly July 24, 2014 at 11:41 am #

    Congratulations! So excited for you!!!! You’re gonna win this thing!!! (Hope it’s great prizes!)

    • Jeanine July 24, 2014 at 1:18 pm #

      Thanks, Beverly! Prizes are pretty sweet, $5,000 cash plus the recipe in a national print campaign. Would be pretty cool!

  16. Lynn July 24, 2014 at 11:51 am #

    Congrats to you. I enjoy seeing all your posts and recipes. Your pic looks amazing and a winner for sure. Thanks for your amazing website. Go get em:)

    • Jeanine July 24, 2014 at 1:19 pm #

      Thanks so much, Lynn! I appreciate it! I’ll try. :)

  17. Alison Arsenault July 24, 2014 at 12:05 pm #

    Congratulations Jeannie, to get picked out of that large of a filed is fantastic. Your cheesecake looks delicious, Good Luck. No hints from me Beverly seems to have covered any hints that I could pass along.

    • Jeanine July 24, 2014 at 1:19 pm #

      Thanks Alison! Hoping the judges like butter tarts! :)

  18. Aliyanna July 24, 2014 at 12:11 pm #

    Congratulations. That is a tremendous vote of confidence from the judges.

    My tips. Enjoy yourself! You have already accomplished something really great. Something to be very proud of. The rest is just gravy. The more relaxed you are and the more you are enjoying your experience, the better you will be able to cook.

    My best tip. Make the Judges run laps for a few and starve em for a few hours….Then everything will taste wonderful!!! I am betting you will be getting a special award anyway because it is gluten free and gluten free is the new “thing” .

    Best of luck and have a lot of fun and smile lots.

    • Jeanine July 24, 2014 at 1:22 pm #

      Thanks, Aliyanna! I will try to enjoy myself, even though I know I’ll be missing my family like mad. I am definitely honoured to make it to the top 5, that is something to be proud of in itself. :)
      Ha, love that – wonder if the judges will be HUNGRY when they taste?? :) fingers crossed they are looking for an easy GF option!

  19. Helen July 24, 2014 at 1:46 pm #

    Congrats! I’ve never had the nerve to enter something like that. Tips for Cheesecake seem to be well covered. Other tips I have in abundance.
    Don’t colour your hair, but a bunch of well placed highlights lets the gray blend in really well and brightens the face. (BTW it’s not white it’s an arctic highlight.)
    Sandals with capris, shoes with slacks. Runners if you really want to be comfortable. Who’ll be looking at your feet anyway?
    Ditch the spanx, why be uncomfortable in your big moment?
    Enjoy your time in TO.
    Just be aware there’s a lot (and I mean a LOT) of road work being done downtown and you’ll need extra time to get around.
    Best of luck!

    • Jeanine July 25, 2014 at 7:03 am #

      Thanks, Helen! You never know what happens when you jump in with both feet and just go for it. :) (and thanks for the traffic tip – thankful I don’t have to do any of the driving)

  20. Kimberly Flowers July 24, 2014 at 2:16 pm #

    Tip: my experience with Mango Cheescakes and Cuban Flan made in Key West, Fl. is to place the pan in a deep water bath and then on a strong sheet pan, then place it in the oven and here is the magic, now turn on the oven. Do Not Preheat!!! Then as said before leave it to cool in the warm oven with the door open. You will be rewarded with the silkiest filling ever, just adjust your time a little. I start with the usual time and then check carefully. Also Do Not Open the Oven Door till nearly done. For the WIN.

    • Jeanine July 25, 2014 at 7:04 am #

      Great tips, Kimberly! Thanks so much for sharing. Maybe I’ll have to try baking a cheesecake in Florida… that would be nice! :)

  21. Haliburtongal July 24, 2014 at 7:06 pm #

    Go for it Jeanine! Your cheesecake looks like a winner to me. This is such an exciting time in your life. I wish you nothing but the best…..!

    • Jeanine July 25, 2014 at 7:04 am #

      Thank you so much, Haliburtongal! πŸ˜€ Means a lot to me!

  22. Michelle @ My Gluten-free Kitchen.com July 24, 2014 at 7:32 pm #

    I’m so so excited and nervous for you! What an experience this will be! I don’t think I could handle the pressure!
    For the record, I love Spanx and think they are actually quite comfortable, unless it is super hot out.
    But, you totally don’t need them either. You just need to be as relaxed and comfortable as you can be!
    I’ll be watching for updates all day!

    • Jeanine July 25, 2014 at 7:05 am #

      Thank you, Michelle!! I’ll try to keep updating on instagram, FB & Twitter throughout the week! :)

  23. Sheridan July 24, 2014 at 10:28 pm #

    Yes to the hair color. No to the Spanx. Comfy shoes look good with everything. You are already the winner with us!

    • Jeanine July 25, 2014 at 7:06 am #

      Thank you very much, Sheridan – appreciate the support! :)


  1. Gluten Free Maple Butter Tart Cheesecake (Cheesecake of the Year 2014 Bake-Off recap) - The Baking Beauties - September 12, 2014

    […] At the end of July, I had the opportunity to bake this cake in one of the test kitchens at Kraft Canada in Toronto, Ontario. This recipe was picked as one of the top 5 cheesecakes in Canada, and I was competing for the title of Cheesecake of the Year. You can read more about that HERE. […]

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