The humble Israeli white cheese, light and creamy, is an everyday staple in Israel and is the essential secret ingredient in the Israeli cheesecake. No other cheese can yield a cake so fluffy yet rich, without being too heavy (yes, when I say heavy I’m referring to New York-style cheesecake).
- Cheesy delights: Two savory Shavuot recipes
- Strawberries and cream with a Middle Eastern kick
- Apricot Tarte Tatin
Israelis learned the production of the white cheese, which is really a German quark cheese, from the Templers, German-Protestant settlers who immigrated to Israel in the second half of the 19th century (I wrote all about it here last year.)
But while the classic Israeli cheesecake takes center stage, there’s another simpler, almost childish version that at least in my house is considered the best cake ever. Layers of creamy filling made of white cheese that was mixed with instant vanilla pudding nestled between simple petit beurre tea biscuits, dipped in coffee. The cake is then topped with chocolate ganache or simply with cocoa powder.
Sounds familiar? Using available cheap ingredients, Israelis recreated tiramisu. It has vanilla pudding and 5 percent fat simple cheese instead of the whipped egg yolks and the 49 percent fat mascarpone. But trust me, you’ll never look back.
Israeli white cheese is available in many kosher markets and at some Costco branches. The equivalent quark cheese is available in some Whole Foods stores.
Tea biscuits from Israel are available in the kosher section of most supermarkets. European petit beurre biscuits are available in some supermarkets.
Yields 9 “ x 9” cake
2 cups milk
1 1/4 cups heavy cream, divided
2 tablespoons sugar
3.4 oz. instant vanilla pudding (1 pack)
12 oz. Israeli white cheese or quark
1 cup strong coffee, at room temperature
8 oz. petit beurre or Israeli biscuits
4 oz. 54% semisweet chocolate
1. In a large bowl mix together the milk, 1 cup of the heavy cream, sugar and vanilla pudding using a fork or a balloon whisk. Fold the white cheese in and let it set for 5 minutes.
2. Put the coffee in a small bowl. Dip the biscuits, one or two at a time, and arrange in one layer at the bottom of the pan. Spread half the cheese mixture on top and arrange a second layer of coffee-dipped biscuits on top. Spread the rest of the cheese mixture and end with a third layer of the biscuits. Cover and transfer for the fridge for 3-4 hours.
3. Melt the chocolate and 1/4 cup of the heavy cream in the microwave, mix until smooth. Gently pour over the cake and spread evenly using an icing spatula. Cover and return to the fridge for 8 hours or overnight.