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We Make The Claremont Diner Cheesecake


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Cheesecake2The holidays call for a special dessert, and for decades the most special dessert in this part of the world was the Claremont Diner cheesecake. MyVeronaNJ.com’s 2010 story about how the cheesecake came to be is the most-read story of any we have published, attracting a steady stream of readers who remember its signature richness. Back in the day, the Claremont Diner stood at the corner of Pompton and Bloomfield, and every day, dozens of cakes would come out of its oven. There never seemed to be even a sliver left over. I remember it all too well because I worked as a waitress at the Claremont Diner during college.

But as the days got shorter this fall, remembering the taste of that dessert just wasn’t enough. I had to make it. Most of the online recipes purporting to be the Claremont Diner cheesecake have it all wrong. The Claremont Diner cheesecake was baked in a cookie crust. Not crustless, not surrounded by crumbled graham crackers or any of the other nonsense that’s online.

Luckily, the real recipe is out there, if you know where to look. Jeffrey J. Jensen, the son of the Claremont’s former head baker, published it in a book about his career, and it’s among the chapters that he posted to the Internet. (Page 146, here.) An identical recipe appears on the website of the Carnegie Deli, where Jensen worked for a time. We can’t re-print either without violating their copyright, but at least you now know where to look. The Carnegie, by the way, was closed in April over a gas line problem and The New York Post speculated over the weekend that it might never re-open.Cheesecake3

But you’re not here for that story, and the recipe is only part of what made the Claremont Diner cheesecake so different. The cake relies on a huge quantity of cream cheese, and when I interviewed Jensen in 2010, he insisted that the additives in modern dairy products could make it harder to make an authentic Claremont Diner cheesecake now. (Once, at the Claremont, I went back to the bakery to tell Jeff Jensen Sr. that some customers asked if he could make the cake with saccharin so they could have it on their diet. You probably could have heard his outrage all the way back to his native Denmark.) So I went to supermarket and bought organic cream cheese, as well as organic heavy cream. Organic eggs are in the fridge all the time.

I am only a so-so baker, but even if I were a pro, I suspect that this would be a hard cake to make. The Claremont relied on a giant heavy duty mixer to cream the cream cheese and the other ingredients together. I had to make do with a Cuisinart. Fitting the cookie crust into the bottom of the springform pan was straightforward, but getting it to stand up against the outside rim was an unintentional comedy routine.

Finally, everything got in the pan and the pan got in the oven. The top got a little browned, but not the signature color that you can see in this photo of the real thing. But was its taste a success? I’ll let the last photo speak for itself.Cheesecake1

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Virginia Citrano
Virginia Citranohttps://myveronanj.com
Virginia Citrano grew up in Verona. She moved away to write and edit for The Wall Street Journal’s European edition, Institutional Investor, Crain’s New York Business and Forbes.com. Since returning to Verona, she has volunteered for school, civic and religious groups, served nine years on the Verona Environmental Commission and is now part of Sustainable Verona. She co-founded MyVeronaNJ in 2009. You can reach Virginia at [email protected]


  1. Thanks Very much for this article and memories! After the Claremont burned down the first time we understood that baking was done off site (outside vendor?). Their cheesecake was a rare and beloved treat at our home but it wasn’t the same after the first fire. My mother found the Linde’s restaurant recipe in a magazine and we have been making that version for the holidays for about 40 years now (recently without the crust). Thanks for the links – we’ll have to try the original now!
    Wishing all a Very Merry Christmas and a Healthy and Happy New Year!


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