Celebrate Shavuot and summer with homemade cheesecake

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Finally, warmer weather is here! For me, this means fresh fruit, gardening, family gatherings and Shavuot, a holiday when we typically eat all things delicious and dairy-based – like cheesecake.

When I texted my family about making cheesecake, their responses said it all: “yummm” and “delicious!” and, from my twin sister, “remember that time Dad bought us a giant cheesecake for our birthday a few years ago? That was the best.”

For my family, cheesecake isn’t just about its deliciously smooth texture, the sweet and salty combination of the crust or finding the best toppings – it’s also about pride. Since my parents grew up in Brooklyn, they claim there is nothing better than New York Style Cheesecake.

My parents don’t recall my grandparents ever making this treat at home, but I have fond memories of the cheesecakes picked up from the local bakery for special occasions.

Making cheesecake can get complicated, with its water bath and chilling time. Measurements must be precise and special care needs to be taken while mixing so as not to overwhip the batter.

But nobody should miss out on this luscious treat for fear of a baking disaster, so I’ve scaled down the recipe to make it more approachable. These Mini Cheesecakes are simple and tasty. Give them a try!

In the recipe, I suggest salted caramel or strawberry jam for toppings, but feel free to get creative!

Have a baking question? Want me to make your family recipe? Feel free to email me at lmaybruch@jewishallianceri.org. And check out all my baking videos, at Jewishrhody.org/baking-with-lisa.

LISA MAYBRUCH (lmaybruch@jewishallianceri.org) is the manager of adult programs at the Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island. Her occasional series, “Baking with Lisa,” appears in Jewish Rhode Island and online at Jewishrhody.org/baking-with-lisa.

Mini Cheesecakes

INGREDIENTS

For the crust:

1 cup (114g) finely crushed graham crackers

1 1/2 tablespoons (19g) granulated sugar

Pinch of salt

3 tablespoons (38g) melted butter

For the filling:

1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar

1/4 cup (50g) brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 tablespoons (12g) all-purpose flour

2 (8 ounce) packages of cream cheese, room temperature

2 large eggs, room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup (58g) sour cream, room temperature

1/4 cup (2 fluid ounces) heavy cream, room temperature

Toppings, optional

DIRECTIONS

For the crust: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a mixing bowl, whisk together crushed graham crackers, sugar and salt. Pour in melted butter and stir mixture until evenly coated.

Divide graham cracker mixture among 12 paper-lined muffin cups; about 2 tablespoons each. Press mixture into an even layer. Bake for 5 minutes.

Remove from oven and allow to cool while preparing filling. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees.

For the cheesecake mixture: In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the sugars, salt and flour until well blended. Add softened cream cheese to a different mixing bowl and pour sugar mixture on top. With an electric mixer, blend mixture on low speed until smooth.

Mix in eggs one at a time and blend on low speed while scraping sides and bottom of bowl. Mix just until combined after each addition. Add vanilla, sour cream and heavy cream and mix just until combined.

Tap mixing bowl on the countertop to release some of the air bubbles. Divide mixture among muffin cups, filling each nearly to the top of the cupcake liner.

Bake in 325-degree oven 18-23 minutes, or until the centers barely jiggle. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 1 hour at room temperature.

Cover loosely with plastic wrap and transfer to refrigerator. Chill for at least 2 hours.

Top with your favorite jam, whipped cream or caramel, and enjoy!