How to CookBakingDessertTips & Techniques

The Cure for Condensation Involves Paper (But Not *That* Kind of Paper)

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Condensation forms on the surface of desserts when we don’t cool them completely before covering and refrigerating, or when we unwrap them before defrosting. So much for hindsight! But, when condensation does happen, what the heck can you do about it?

Why Cheesecakes Crack (& How to Stop It)
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Why Cheesecakes Crack (& How to Stop It)

For an easy solution: Blot the surface of certain kinds of desserts—such as cheesecake or pumpkin pie—with toilet paper! You heard it right: toilet paper. Buy a roll and designate it as your kitchen toilet paper. (Be sure to not use paper towels, though, which are too coarse and often have an embossed texture or pattern that will imprint on the surface of the dessert.)

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Simply lay pieces of toilet paper directly on the surface of the cake—don’t dab or wipe—and sweep your fingers very lightly over the paper to absorb as much moisture as possible. Lift the paper and repeat with more dry pieces of paper as necessary.

Blotting works on desserts that have a sealed surface or skin, so long as they aren’t dark, glossy, or reflective. I’ve have good luck with cheesecakes and pumpkin pies, but not ganache, chocolate glaze, or chocolate pudding—the blotting mars their sheen—unless you are prepared to dust these latter with powdered sugar or cocoa powder or top them with whipped cream I also often blot the lemon curd topping on my lemon bars before dusting them with powdered sugar.

Amaro Ricotta Cheesecake

Amaro Ricotta Cheesecake by Samantha Weiss Hills

Lemon Bar Cheesecake

Lemon Bar Cheesecake by Sarah Jampel

Lemon Bars

Lemon Bars by Yossy Arefi

Ricotta Cheesecake Pie with Chocolate-Coffee Ganache

Ricotta Cheesecake Pie with Chocolate-Coffee Ganache by Riddley Gemperlein-Schirm

But, if you are uncertain about whether a dessert will survive blotting, you can always test a tiny area first. If it works, you know what to do.

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Do you have a trick for removing condensation? Share it in the comments.

Alice Medrich is a Berkeley, California-based pastry chef, chocolatier, and cookbook author. You can read more about what she's up to here.