Cheesecake Treats for Shavuot
by Daniel Rogov
the springtime feast of weeks, falls precisely seven weeks
and is a holiday celebrating the giving of the 10
Commandments on Mount Sinai. It is also a holiday that
celebrates the harvest of the first fruits. No one questions
the importance of Shavuoth in Jewish life but, every year
as the holiday approaches, it seems appropriate to ponder
on the fact that no one seems to know precisely why it is
considered traditional to celebrate the holiday by eating
dairy dishes. Some say that such dishes remind us that the
is as sweet and nourishing as milk and honey. Others claim
that the tradition honors the Israelites who were wandering
through Sinai and gave up meat dishes as a sacrifice just
ascended the mountain to receive the Torah. Some students
of the kabbalah
say that dairy products have a special purity, one that reminds
us that if we are faithful to the Torah we will eventually
Based on a recipe from The American Harvest
Restaurant at New York City's Vista Hotel
15 grams butter, melted
8 ginger or vanilla cookies, crushed into fine crumbs
1 kilo cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 kilo sugar
1 1/2 tsp. grated orange rind
1 1/2 tsp. grated lemon rind
1/2 kilo pumpkin puree (may use tinned)
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
2 tsp. ground anise
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. ground coriander seeds
50 milliliters sweet cream
50 milliliters sour cream
3 Tablespoons Bourbon or Scotch whisky
100 grams shelled walnuts, chopped finely
Brush a 25 centimeter cake tin with the melted butter and
then coat evenly with the cookie crumbs.
Cut the cream cheese into small pieces.
In a large bowl whisk the cheese until it is creamy and then
gradually beat in the sugar. Continue beating until the mixture
is very soft and no lumps remain. On a low speed beat the
eggs one at a time and then beat in the grated orange and
lemon rind together with the pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, anise,
cloves and coriander. Add the sweet cream, sour cream and
whisky and beat until the mixture is smooth throughout.
Pour the mixture into the cake tin, sprinkle
over with the chopped nuts. Place the cake tin in a large
roasting pan, pour in boiling water that will reach halfway
up the sides, set in the center of a medium oven and bake
for 1 1/2 hours.
Remove from the oven and place on a rack
to cool completely. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours (may
be stored, refrigerated for up to 2 days). To unmold, dip
the cake tin into very hot water for about 30 seconds, taking
care that the water does not come over the top of the cake.
Run a knife carefully around the edge and then invert the
cake onto a board. Invert again onto a serving place so that
the nuts are on top. To serve, dip a wide cake knife in hot
water to cut each slice. (Because the cake is quite soft
do not expect the slices to be perfect). (Serves 12 - 14).
Adapted from a recipe by Penelope Casas
For the dough:
1 cup flour
1/4 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
For the Filling:
250 grams cottage cheese
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. dried ground mint
1/4 tsp. ouzo, arak or pastis liqueur
3 Tbsp. honey
1 tsp. rose water
powdered cinnamon, as required
Make the dough by mixing the flour and
salt and stirring in the oil and 2 1/2 Tablespoons of water.
Roll the mixture out and fold in three, as you would a letter.
Roll out again and fold and roll 2 more times. Place the
dough into a 20 centimeter loose-bottomed cake or quiche
pan, making sure the bottom and sides are covered with the
In a mixing bowl beat together the eggs,
cheese, sugar, mint and ouzo. Spread the mixture on the dough
and bake in a medium oven until the filling is firm (about
Mix together the honey and rose water,
sprinkle this mixture over the pie and then dust with cinnamon.
Serve warm. (Serves 6 - 8).
American Style Cheesecake
2 cups ginger or vanilla cookies
1/4 cup confectioner's sugar
6 Tbsp. butter, melted
2 eggs, well beaten
750 grams cream cheese
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. lemon juice
16 - 20 apricot halves or peach slices (may use tinned)
1 1/2 cups sour cream
2 Tbsp. sugar
generous pinch of salt
In a blender grind the cookies until the
crumbs are very fine. Add the confectioners' sugar and melted
butter and stir well. Line a bottom of a 23 - 25 cm. cake
tin with this mixture and spread evenly. Refrigerate for
about 2 hours before using.
In a mixing bowl combine the eggs, cream
cheese, sugar and lemon juice and mix until the ingredients
are thoroughly combined.
Distribute half the apricot halves or peach
slices on the cookie crust and over this pour the cream cheese
filling. Place in a medium-hot oven and let bake for 20 minutes.
Remove from the oven and let the cake cool to room temperature.
Heat the oven to very hot.
In a clean mixing bowl combine the sour
cream, sugar, vanilla, and salt. Pour these over the cake
and decorate with the remaining fruit. Bake in the oven for
5 minutes and then remove from the oven. Let the cake cool
and then refrigerate for 6 - 12 hours before serving. (Serves
6 - 8).
Daniel Rogov is the restaurant and wine
critic for the daily newspaper Ha'aretz. He is also
the senior writer for Wine and Gourmet Magazine and
contributes culinary and wine articles to newspapers in Europe
and the United States.