There are few things in San Francisco that aren’t overhyped, overpriced, and over-Yelped. However, in the outer reaches of the city, there lies a tiny, timeless little nook called Zanze’s. From behind his dinky counter, the man himself churns out cheesecakes and only cheesecakes… only incredibly magical, fluffy cheesecakes, so wonderfully wispy that you must slice them using the provided fishing wire. What’s more, Sam Zanze produces his work without frills, fanfare, or financial funny business. No hip packaging, no website, no mark-up — just a quality product at a reasonable price. He’s a municipal treasure.
K introduced me to the magic of Zanze’s at his birthday party last year, for which I’d made an almond cake. This time around, I knew what I’d be making for this dearest of friends. I was going to try my hand at cheesecake. I acknowledged it’d be futile to try and emulate Zanze’s sorcery. Rather, my goal was to copy its style — airy, light and satisfying rather than heavy, dense, and cloying. This souffle cheesecake recipe was exactly that.
However! Because I can’t leave well enough alone, I topped the cheesecake with an incredibly decadent mixture of caramelized apples, apple-caramel sauce, and chocolate syrup. Would I do deface such a simple, delicate cheesecake again? Yes, because I’m a glutton. However, I’d highly encourage you to try the cheesecake on its own first. It can’t replicate the magic of Zanze’s, but it comes close.