In this week's Wall Street Journal, the ever savvy Catalogue Critic took on one of the most popular types of holiday desserts, cheesecake, to see if a good mail-order one could be found. Cheesecake may not sound like the perfect seasonal dessert, but more than one company that they interviewed reported that holiday sales had "increased in the double digits" over each of the last few years, and virtually all said that November and December were their biggest months of the year.
Orders were placed at five bakeries and testers, including the executive chef of the Four Seasons, were enlisted to judge. They looked for "a firm outside, a creamy interior and a balanced flavor" in each of the plain/vanilla cheesecakes. Their two favorite cakes came from Eli's Cheesecake Company and Junior's. Eli's ($28) was rich and creamy, with a shortbread cookie crust, but had a lemon flavor that not everyone enjoyed. Junior's ($29.95) was picked as the "best overall," as it was creamy, not crumbly, and had a slightly moist sponge cake base instead of a graham cracker crust. They also noted that Junior's is adding 12 flavors to their holiday menu for anyone who wants more than plain cheesecake.
Incidentally, shipping was not a problem for the testers, as all the cakes arrived in pristine condition via overnight shipping, so the cost of getting the cheesecake to your door is probably going to be a bigger concern than what it will look like when it gets there.