Shavuot, which begins at sundown on Saturday, May 26, commemorates the giving of the Torah to the Jewish people at Mount Sinai and is also the Festival of the First Fruits.
Dairy foods such as cheesecakes, kugels, and blintzes are traditionally served for Shavuot. Cheesecake is always a hit and you can make various versions from just one basic recipe. Smaller individual mini cheesecakes baked in cupcake pans take even less time to bake than a large cheesecake. You can also vary the fillings – e.g., chocolate, vanilla. Substitute different liqueurs (e.g., orange, coffee, hazelnut, or almond) instead of vanilla extract. You can swirl melted semi-sweet chocolate into the batter for a marbled effect. Fresh berries make terrific toppings. For praline cheesecakes, use brown sugar instead of white and garnish with pecan halves.
Hot cheesecake makes an excellent brunch or lunch dish for Shavuot. Once you’ve tried this, it will probably become a family favorite that you’ll make all year round. Dairy delicious!
Norene’s Easy Cheesecake
Adapted from: “The New Food Processor Bible” (Whitecap)
I’ve been making this recipe for years, with rave reviews! You can substitute chocolate or vanilla wafers in the crust.
18 single graham wafers (about 1 1/2 cups crumbs)
6 tablespoons soft margarine or butter, cut in small chunks
2 tablespoons sugar (granulated or brown)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 cups (2 pounds) cream cheese, cut in chunks (light or regular)
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 eggs (or 2 eggs plus 4 egg whites)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract (or 2 tablespoons lemon juice)
Topping of your choice
1. Preheat oven to 350Â°F.
2. For crust: Break wafers into chunks. Process on steel blade until coarse crumbs are formed. Add remaining crust ingredients and process until blended, 5 or 6 seconds. Press into sprayed 10-inch springform pan. Wipe bowl and blade with paper towels.
3. For filling: Process cheese with sugar until blended, about 15 seconds. Add eggs and vanilla extract. Process until smooth and creamy, 20 to 30 seconds longer. Pour over crust.
4. Place a pie plate half-filled with water on lowest rack of oven. Place cheesecake on middle rack. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes. When done, edges will be set but center will jiggle slightly. Turn off heat and let cheesecake cool in oven with door partly open for about one hour. It will firm up during this time.
5. Refrigerate. Add desired topping and chill for 3 to 4 hours before serving. (Can be made a day or two ahead.)
Makes 12 servings
279 calories per serving (without topping), 30.4 g carbohydrate, 0.3 g fiber, 7 g protein, 14.4 g fat (6.6 g saturated), 80 mg cholesterol, 364 mg sodium, 2.9 mg potassium, 1 mg iron, 187 mg calcium, 30 mg phosphorus
Lighter Variation: Use granular Splenda instead of sugar. Use half cream cheese and half dry cottage cheese, 2 eggs and 4 egg whites. One serving contains 171 calories, 12.5 g carbohydrate and 9.8 g fat.
Fresh strawberry topping: Cut off stem ends from 4 cups of strawberries; cut strawberries in half lengthwise. Arrange cut-side down in an attractive design over cooled cheesecake. Microwave 1/2 cup apricot preserves on High for 45 seconds, until melted. Gently brush glaze over fruit.
Mandarin orange topping: Drain three 10-ounce cans mandarin oranges. Pat dry. Arrange in an attractive design over cooled cheesecake. Microwave 1/2 cup apricot preserves on high for 45 seconds, until melted. Gently brush glaze over fruit.
Canned pie filling: Spoon a 19-ounce can of cherry, blueberry, or pineapple pie filling evenly over cheesecake.
Praline cheesecakes: Use firmly packed brown sugar instead of granulated sugar. Use 1 teaspoon vanilla instead of lemon juice. When cool, garnish with toasted pecan halves.
Prepare filling for Easy Cheesecake as directed. Omit crust. Line muffin pans with 24 paper cupcake liners. Place a vanilla wafer in each liner. Top with cheesecake mixture. Bake in preheated 350Â°F oven for 10 to 12 minutes, until set. When cooled, top each cheesecake with a large strawberry or a spoonful of thick jam. One mini contains 154 calories, 18.9 g carbohydrate and 6.8 g fat.
Source: “The New Food Processor Bible” (Whitecap)
This longtime favorite comes from my longtime friend, Roz Brown of Montreal. It makes a fabulous main dish for a buffet or brunch for Shavuot or anytime. Serve it with sour cream and fresh fruit salad or berries.
1 cup corn flakes (or 1/4 cup crumbs)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 cup butter or margarine
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups dry cottage cheese (fat-free or regular, see Note below)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup milk
Use the steel blade to process all ingredients.
For topping: Process corn flakes with cinnamon and brown sugar until fine. Transfer to a small bowl.
For base: Process butter or margarine with sugar and egg for about 1 minute, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary. Add flour, baking powder and cinnamon. Process just until dough begins to form a ball around the blades, about 10 seconds. Pat into sprayed 8-inch square glass baking dish or 9-inch pie plate.
For filling: Process cheese for 15 seconds. Add eggs, sugar and salt. Process 15 seconds longer. Dissolve cornstarch in milk and pour in through feed tube while machine is running. Process 10 seconds longer, until well mixed. Pour over base and sprinkle with reserved topping.
Bake in a preheated 350Â°F oven for 1 hour. Serve hot.
Yield: 8 servings. Keeps 2 to 3 days in the refrigerator. Reheats and/or freezes well. Recipe may be doubled and baked in sprayed 9 x 13-inch glass baking dish. Baking time will be about the same.
258 calories per serving, 38.0 g carbohydrate, 0.8 g fiber, 9 g protein, 8.2 g fat (4.4. g saturated fat), 98 mg cholesterol, 275 mg sodium, 123 mg potassium, 2 mg iron, 85 mg calcium, 143 mg phosphorus
Dry/pressed cottage cheese: If you aren’t able to find dry or pressed cottage cheese in your supermarket, substitute small curd cottage cheese (low-fat or fat-free). Place in a colander and press out excess liquid. You’ll probably have to add extra cottage cheese to make up for the drained liquid and processing time will be slightly longer.
Norene Gilletz is the author of kosher cookbooks in Canada. She divides her time between work as a food writer, culinary consultant, spokes person, cooking instructor, lecturer, and editor. Norene lives in Toronto, and her motto is “Food that’s good for you should taste good!” Visit her website at www.gourmania.com or email her at email@example.com.