Some might disagree, but for me the best cheesecakes are less about the light-as-air fluffy interior than the sweet, crumbly goodness that is the traditional graham cracker crust. Skimp on the crust, and I quickly lose interest. So it was with great delight that I discovered the cheesecakes, or rather, cheesecake loaves, by Cecil & Merl, the line of artisanal goodies by the owners of popular neighborhood eatery James in Prospect Heights (Bryan Calvert and Deborah Williamson used their sweets-loving grandfathers’ names as the moniker). Their long shape allows for an oh-so-very favorable crust-to-filling ratio—that means plenty of dense graham cracker to appropriately cradle the silky interior of lemon ricotta or dulce de leche and sea salt. Not to mention the shape has a rustic elegance about it that I have to say looks awfully nice perched on my kitchen counter. And while those who live in the 718 can pick up a loaf for themselves at James, Cecil & Merl will also ship them anywhere in the country. FIORELLA V.
Available at cecilandmerl.com