Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Cheesecake for Shavuot

Many people have never heard of the holiday of Shavuot. But if you have, the first word you will think of when recalling the holiday is "cheesecake." It is totally unlike any of our childhood memories of family gatherings for Rosh Hashanah or Passover-- no brisket or matzoh ball soup highlight this menu. Instead, we pull out all the stops on blintzes, lasagnas, ice cream, and more.

When it comes to cheesecake, I have the same thoughts as I do in decorating. The simpler the better. There is so much rich creaminess and sweetness already going on that I don't need any chocolate or caramel to take away from what's going on. (OK, maybe it would be nice, but I don't need it.)

On the holiday of Shavuot we eat at least one festive meal that is dairy (you can learn more about that here).
Because I am gluten-free I can't eat a graham-cracker crust, so I bought several of these macaroon pie shells on sale after Passover.

Here's a really simple recipe I've used many times with great results.

Yummy Cheesecake
Serves 10 to 12
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup melted butter

4  8-ounce packages very soft cream cheese
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a bowl, mix graham cracker crumbs and sugar. Cur in melted butter with a fork. Press into a 9-inch springform pan, along sides and bottom. Chill in refrigerator.

In mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth and light. Beat in eggs, vanilla and cornstarch until blended. Stir in sour cream.

Pour mixture into crust and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 200 degrees and bake for 45 minutes. Turn off oven and open oven door. Cool with door open slightly for 3 hours. Refrigerate.

You may add canned or fresh fruit topping.


Although I prefer my cheesecake plain n' simple, here are a few ideas to kick it up a notch, if you're so inclined:
Strawberries stuffed with cheesecake filling, topped with graham cracker crumbs. (Strawberries are in season early this year! Go find some at a farmers market or farm stand near you!)
Or, drizzle melted chocolate, caramel or both, over the cheesecake. If you go with melted chocolate, you could mix in some peanut butter or a teaspoon of cinnamon.
                                                         PHOTOS: PINTEREST

Happy Shavuot!

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