Cheese cake
Cheesecake, a Shavuot staple. Photo by Zingyyellow
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Shavuot − that happy, bright and colorful holiday, with rich cheese pastries and colorful salads − is also characterized by a star that everyone waits for at the end of the meal: the humble - or not so humble - cheesecake.

The idea of cheesecake is ancient, apparently dating from the time of the Roman Empire. Most of the recipes from days of yore essentially resemble those for modern cheesecake − calling for combining cheese with eggs, and such seasonings as lemon, raisins, rosewater and spices. The cheeses they used back in the day were soft white cheeses (quark‏) from goat’s or cow’s milk, cream cheeses or ricotta. To stabilize the mixture, the bakers used flour, cornmeal, semolina or ground almonds.

For this Shavuot, here are the seven ultimate recipes for cheesecake, from the classic to the avant-garde.

1. A cheesecake to start your day

Creator: Leah Schapira

Presented by Cookkosher.com - The Home of Kosher Recipes

Prep time: 20 minutes
Level: Medium
Serving/Yields: 3 pies



My mother serves this for breakfast every Shabbat morning and my family polishes off two whole cakes. You can use reduced fat cream cheese and reduced fat sour cream for a lighter version of the cheesecake. You can also serve this in a pyrex baking dish or in a spring form pan for a more elegant presentation. This cheesecake freezes well so simply wrap and freeze any extra pies to enjoy later. Recipe from "Fresh & Easy Kosher Cooking" by Leah Schapira.

Ingredients:
1 lb farmer cheese

1½ cups sour cream
8 oz container whipped cream cheese

6 large eggs, separated
¼ cup orange juice
1 tbsp vanilla sugar
1½ cups sugar, divided
3 round graham cracker pie shells

3 heaped tbsp flour

For the sour cream topping:
1½ cups sour cream

1 tbsp vanilla sugar
1 tbsp sugar

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).
2. In a large bowl, using a spoon, mix farmer cheese, sour cream and cream cheese.
3. Add 6 egg yolks, orange juice, vanilla sugar and ¾ cup sugar.
4. Mix till incorporated.
5. Add flour.
6. In a mixer, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form.
7. Gradually add the remaining ¾ cup sugar.
8. Fold beaten whites into the cheese mixture.
9. Divide filling into the 3 pie shells.10. Bake for 40 minutes. The cheesecakes should be slightly golden on the edges.
11. For the topping, combine sour cream and sugars.
12. Remove cheesecakes from oven and let cool 5 minutes. When still warm, divide the sour cream topping between the three cheesecakes. With the back of a spoon, starting from the center, circle the topping across the top until it covers the entire cake.
13. Alternatively, if serving for dessert, you can drizzle dulce de leche, caramel or desired topping.

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2. Baked Israeli cheesecake

Creator: Vered Guttman

This cheesecake uses the Israeli white cheese (similar to the German quark), and the result is a light fluffy dessert. You can find Israeli cheese in Kosher markets and some Costco branches. You can get quark cheese at Whole Foods.

Yields 10” round cake

Ingredients:
For the base:
4.2 oz tea biscuits or Petit-Beurre biscuits
2 TBSP melted butter

For the cheese filling:

1 lb. white cheese (or quark)
3 eggs at room temperature, separated
8 TBSP sugar
1 cup whipping cream
1 TBSP lemon juice
Zest from one lemon
8 TBSP flour
For the topping:
1 lb. sour cream
3 TBSP sugar

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Butter a 10-inch spring-form pan.
2. In the food-processor crumble the tea biscuits until fine. With the food-processor still running add the melted butter. Flatten the crumbed tea biscuits mixture into the bottom of the pan.
3. For the filling - mix all the ingredients, except the egg whites. Whip the egg whites until firm and fold into the cheese mixture. Pour into the pan and bake for 45 minutes.
4. While the cake is in the oven mix the sour cream and the sugar.
5. After 45 minutes take the cake out of the oven and using a spatula very gently spread the sour cream on top. The center of the cake will be very soft at this point so be careful not to break it. Return the cake to the oven for another 10 minutes. At this point the center of the cake will still be very shaky and this is fine. Cool the cake on a rack and refrigerate over night before serving.

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3. No-bake Israeli cheesecake

Creator: Vered Guttman

Known also as the crumble-cheesecake, this is one of the most popular cheesecakes in Israel. This cheesecake uses the Israeli white cheese (similar to the German quark).

Yields 10”x12” cake (a smaller or larger pan will work as well, and will just make a taller or shorter cakes)

Ingredients:

For the base:
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
15 TBSP butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
Zest from one lemon

For the cheese filling:
2 cups heavy cream
10 TBSP sugar
3.4 oz. pack instant vanilla pudding mix
1/4 cup milk
1.65 lb. Israeli white cheese
Directions:
1. Make the base: in the food processor mix the first 4 ingredients. Add the yolks and lemon zest and pulse to get crumbs.
2. Flatten 2/3 of the dough into a greased pan , and flatten the rest on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake both at 350 degrees until fully baked and golden in color - 20 minutes for the cake pan, 15 minutes for the baking sheet. Let cool completely.
3. To make the cheese filling whip the cream with the sugar. Mix the pudding with the milk. Add the pudding and the cheese to the cream and mix. Pour the cheese mixture to the pan.
4. Crumble the baked dough from the baking sheet on top of the filling. Refrigerate for 24 hours before serving.

 

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4. Classic baked cheesecake

Creator: Limor Laniado Tiroche

This is a tall soft cake with an airy consistency and great taste. The cake is sufficiently sweet that the flavors of the cheese, the lemon zest or vanilla are dominant. If you are careful to use pale yolks (from organic eggs) the cake will come out pure white. Use a 26-cm. springform pan.

For the base:
160 grams petit beurre biscuits (22 cookies)
50 grams walnuts or almonds, finely ground and sifted
100 grams melted butter
1 tablespoon honey

For the filling:
750 grams 9%-fat white cheese
1 container ricotta cheese (250g)
2 containers (400ml) sour cream
5 eggs, separated
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup (200 grams) sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract
or
zest of 1 lemon and 1 tablespoon lemon

1 pinch salt

For the topping:
2 containers sour cream, strained for 30 minutes
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
or
1 container heavy cream
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 container sour cream, strained for 30 minutes

Grease a 26-cm. springform pan with butter and line with baking paper. Place a cloth diaper in a strainer (after you’ve rinsed it in boiling water and then cold water to remove traces of laundry detergent) and strain the cheeses and sour cream for 2 hours (outside the ‘fridge and in a shady spot).

Dissolve the butter and honey in the microwave oven or a frying pan. In a food processor with a metal blade, crumble the petit beurre cookies into coarse crumbs. Add the nuts and melted butter while mixing the crumbs. Press the crumb-mixture into the bottom of the springform pan; refrigerate for 2 hours. Heat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Place a pan of boiling water on the bottom of the oven.

In a big bowl, combine the mixture of strained cheeses and sour cream, egg yolks, cornstarch, vanilla extract or lemon zest and lemon juice, and 1/2 cup sugar. Mix well until the mixture is smooth and there are no lumps. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites with salt, and when a soft foam starts to form, slowly add 1/2 cup sugar; continue beating until you get a stable foam. Gently fold it into the cheese mixture and beat until the mixture is homogeneous. Pour the cheese mixture over the cookie-crumb base. Bake for 15 minutes.

Remove cake from the oven and run a wet knife between it and the rim of the pan. Lower the temperature to 160 degrees Celsius, and continue baking without opening the oven door for 1 hour.

Turn off the oven and leave the cake inside for 30 minutes. During this time the cake will lose some of its height.

Cool the cake outside the oven until it reaches room temperature. Prepare the topping while heating the oven back up to 150 degrees Celsius. In a bowl, combine sour cream, powdered sugar and vanilla extract, and pour over the cake. Bake 10 minutes. Let it cool while and then refrigerate for 12 hours before serving.

Another option for the topping: Whip heavy cream until stable and add powdered sugar to the whipped cream. Fold in strained sour cream by hand, and coat the cake. Refrigerate for 12 hours before serving. You can decorate the cake with raspberries, strawberries, cherries or another fruit you like.

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5. Quick cheesecake with berry jam

Creator: Limor Laniado Tiroche

Here’s a quick cake that is easy to make, without any whipping or complicated preparations, is beloved by children and adults alike, and most important: It is one of the tastiest and most beautiful cakes there are. Use a 26-cm, springform pan.

160 grams petit beurre (22 biscuits)
50 grams finely ground walnuts or almonds
100 grams melted butter
1 tablespoon honey

For the filling:
500 grams 30%-fat cream cheese
500 grams 9%-fat white cheese
2 containers sour cream
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup ‏(150 grams‏) sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 eggs
For the jam filling:
250 grams blueberry or raspberry jam
2 tablespoons boiling water
2 teaspoons lemon juice

Grease a 26-cm. springform pan with butter and line with baking paper. Place a cloth diaper in a strainer (after you’ve rinsed it in boiling water and then cold water to remove traces of laundry detergent) and strain the cheeses and sour cream for 2 hours (outside the ‘fridge and in a shady spot). Dissolve the butter and honey in the microwave oven or a frying pan. In a food processor with a metal blade, crumble the petit beurre cookies into coarse crumbs. Add the nuts and melted butter while mixing the crumbs. Press the crumb mixture into the bottom of the springform pan and refrigerate for 2 hours. Heat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Place a pan of boiling water on the bottom of the oven.

Prepare the jam filling: In a small food processer, blend together jam, boiling water and lemon juice until smooth. Refrigerate. In an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, or else in a big bowl and using a hand-held beater, combine the mixture of strained cheeses and sour cream, cornstarch, sugar and vanilla. Mix well until the mixture has no lumps. Add one egg at a time; keep mixing until the mixture is smooth and homogenous. Pour the cheese mixture over the cookie-crumb base. Spoon 5-6 little piles of jam on at intervals from each other (save the leftover jam for the sauce). Spear a wooden skewer into the center of each pile and lightly turn to create a marbled effect. Lower the oven temperature to 160 degrees Celsius. Bake the cake for 1 hour (without opening the door). Turn off the oven and leave the cake inside for an additional 30 minutes to cool .

Cool outside the oven until the cake reaches room temperature. Refrigerate at least 12 hours before serving. Serve with the remaining jam (if it’s too thick for a sauce, you can dilute with a tablespoonful of water).

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6. Savory cheese 'cake' with herbs

Creator: Doram Gaunt

The method of preparation here is similar to that of a sweet cheesecake, but the absence of sugar, the presence of herbs and the base produce a kind of piquant dish suitable for a first course.

Ingredients (for a 22-cm. round pan ):

For the base:

1 1/2 cups flour
50 gr. chilled butter, cut into cubes
1/4 cup olive oil
1 egg yolk
3/4 tsp. salt
zest of 1 lemon

For the filling:
500 gr. cream cheese, 30% fat
200 ml. sour cream, 15% fat
4 eggs
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. ground white pepper
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. fresh rosemary needles, chopped finely
1/4 cup flour
75 gr. pecorino (or Parmesan ) cheese, finely grated
3 tbsp. chives, finely chopped

In a food processor, mix the flour, butter, olive oil, egg yolk, salt and lemon zest. If the mixture is very dry, add 1-2 tbsp. water.

Line a spring-form pan with baking paper (it's best to lay a sheet of paper on the base when the pan is still open, then close the clasp and trim any protruding paper with scissors ). Grease with butter.

Pour the crumbly mixture into the pan, and with your hands press it into a thin layer that will also cover the edges up to about 3-cm. high. Bake the base at 200 degrees, until it begins to brown (approximately 12 minutes ). Remove from the oven and let cool.

Make the filling: In a food processor, briefly process the cream cheese, sour cream, eggs, salt, lemon juice, pepper, oregano, rosemary and flour. Gently mix in most of the grated pecorino (reserve a bit for sprinkling on top ) and the chives.

Pour the batter over the semi-baked base; sprinkle the reserved grated pecorino on top. Bake for 10 minutes at 200 degrees, then lower temperature to 160 degrees and bake until the surface turns golden brown - about 50 minutes (total baking time is around an hour ).

Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool on a rack. It is best served lukewarm, at room temperature or cold - not piping hot.

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7. Lemony cheesecake

Creator: Doram Gaunt

This is a rich, moist and very smooth cake, with a flourless filling. Thanks to gentle cooking at a low temperature and the bain-marie, the surface remains pale and should be free of cracks or bumps. The cake must be refrigerated overnight, and can be prepared even two or three days in advance.

Ingredients (for a 24-cm. round pan ):

For the base:

180 gr. lemon-flavored cookies (such as Mann's simple crescent cookies )
50 gr. melted butter

For the filling:

500 gr. cream cheese, 30% fat
500 gr. white cheese, 9% fat
3/4 cup sugar
4 eggs
2 tbsp. lemon juice + zest of 1 lemon

For the frosting:

200 gr. white chocolate
200 ml. sour cream
1 tbsp. lemon juice

Process the cookies into crumbs in a food processor; mix with the melted butter. Press the crumbs into an even layer in a spring-form pan lined with baking paper and greased (described above ). It is vital to use a pan that can be tightly shut, so the cake can be baked in a bain-marie without any water seeping in.

In a food processor, combine the two kinds of cheese, sugar, eggs, lemon juice and zest into a uniform mixture. Place the spring-form pan inside a slightly larger baking dish, and pour the batter over the cookie-crumb base. Pour boiling water into the larger pan, reaching to about half the height of the batter in the round pan.

Bake for an hour at 160 degrees. Turn off the oven and leave the cake inside to cool for another hour, with the door closed. Remove the cake, allow it to cool completely and then refrigerate overnight.

To make the frosting, melt the chocolate using a double-boiler, and mix in the sour cream and lemon juice. Pour the frosting over, and then jiggle and tap it on the work surface slightly to distribute the frosting evenly. Keep refrigerated.