Festive Cheese Desserts From Top Israeli Chefs

Chocolate-cheese brownies, a classic cheesecake with crumb topping and a creamy vanilla babka – pastry chefs offer favorite recipes for Shavuot.

With Shavuot nearly upon us, now is the time to rush to the dairy section of the nearest supermarket and stock up on all your favorite white cheeses. Making a cheesecake is not such a complicated proposition. Three top pastry chefs make it especially fun with three creative recipes that are sure to impress your guests.

Cheese babka

Photo by Metuka Room Service

Courtesy of Miri Arazi, chef for the Metuka chain

For the dough:

1 cube fresh yeast

100 ml milk

¾ cup sugar

4 (no. 1) eggs

1 kilo flour

400 gr cold butter, cut into small cubes

1 tsp salt

For the filling:

400 gr dry Canaan cheese

500 gr 9 percent white cheese

¾ cup sugar

3 egg yolks

1/3 package instant vanilla pudding

2 tbsp cornstarch

1. Make the dough: Dissolve the yeast in the milk in the microwave for a few seconds, until the mixture is smooth.

2. In a mixer, combine the milk and yeast, the flour, eggs and sugar, mixing for 5 minutes at low speed. Add the butter, one cube at a time, until it is all absorbed in the dough. Then add the salt and knead at medium speed for three minutes, until the dough is pliant.

3. Transfer the dough to a bowl and cover with tight plastic wrap. Let rise in the refrigerator overnight, until doubled in volume.

4. Make the filling: Beat all the ingredients together until a smooth mixture is obtained, then set aside.

5. On a floured surface, roll out the dough in a rectangle. Spread the cheese filling over ¾ of the area of the dough. Then roll up the dough like a “snake” and slice into 5-cm-thick pieces.

6. Arrange these “roses” on a baking pan that has been greased with butter, with the open part facing up, and let rise for 45 minutes until doubled in volume.

7. Beat an egg with a little milk. Brush this mixture over the cake and bake in an oven preheated to 175-degrees Celsius for about half an hour, or until the cake has risen and browned. Brush with syrup (Dissolve sugar in an equal amount of water) while the cake is still warm. Cool on a rack.

Ben Ami Bertini Shavit’s crumb cheesecake

For a 26-28 cm pan

For the dough:

300 gr flour

120 gr sugar

½ tsp baking powder

200 gr cold butter, cut in cubes

4 egg whites, beaten (not whipped)

For the filling:

750 ml sweet cream

120 gr sugar

250 gr natural cream

500 gr 9 percent white cheese

Optional: lemon zest, real vanilla essence or brandy

1. In a food processor, combine flour with sugar and baking powder. Add the butter cubes and mix using the pulse setting until a crumb-like texture is obtained. Add the egg whites and process until a coarse crumbly mixture is obtained. On a work surface, combine the pieces into a smooth dough.

2. Flatten the dough in a 26-28 cm diameter baking pan, leaving a third of the dough aside. Flatten out the remaining dough in a separate pan – This will be used to make the crumbs for the cake.

3. Bake both pans for about 15 minutes in an oven preheated to 180 degrees Celsius, or until the dough is golden.

4. Prepare the filling: Whip the sweet cream and the sugar, then combine with the rest of the ingredients until an airy filling is obtained.

5. Pour the cheese filling over the baked dough in the pan.

6. Using a fork or by hand, crumble the other piece of baked dough and sprinkle over the cake.

7. Refrigerate the cake for at least 24 hours before serving, or freeze until the cake is firm.

Dudu Outmezgine’s chocolate-cheese brownies

For the brownies:

240 gr dark chocolate

½ tsp instant coffee powder

50 gr fine brandy

120 gr butter

3 eggs

¾ cup sugar

80 gr flour

A pinch (5 gr) baking powder

For the cheese:

200 gr 9 percent white cheese

2 (no. 2) eggs

50 gr sugar

50 gr vanilla pudding

1 container 15 percent sour cream

For the topping:

100 gr sweet cream

100 gr dark chocolate

1. Make the brownies: Melt the chocolate and butter in the microwave. Add the baking powder and brandy and mix well.

2. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and sugar by hand until an airy mixture is obtained. Add the chocolate mixture to the egg mixture, and then add the flour and the baking powder.

3. Pour the mixture into a 26 cm spring pan and bake in an oven preheated to 170 degrees Celsius for 25-30 minutes.

4. Let cool to room temperature.

5. Make the cheese: With a hand-held beater, mix all the ingredients except for the pudding together in a bowl.

6. Add the pudding and mix well.

7. Pour the cheese over the cooled brownies and return to the oven. Bake at 160 degrees Celsius for 30 minutes.

8. Let cool to room temperature and then refrigerate for a few hours.

9. Make the topping: Melt the chocolate and cream together in the microwave until the mixture is smooth. Pour over the cake and refrigerate again until time to serve.