Rabbinic tradition suggests a number of reasons for eating dairy on Shavuot, and cheesecake is a classic dessert for the holiday. This decadent, dense cheesecake recipe can also adapt to any occasion. I made it once in three tiers (one lemon, one Kahlúa, and the top Grand Marnier) for the elegant cake at my friend's wedding. I've also served it for birthdays (of all my baked goods, this was the request) and family dinners. It is even a popular dessert at our Passover seder, with the crust ingredients adapted. It can be baked several days ahead and left uncovered in the fridge, easily served at a moment's notice. Leftovers would last well if they didn't disappear.
To make the crust
- In a food processor, crush Oreos or chocolate wafers with one egg white.
- Pat into bottom and 1/2 -inch up the sides of a well-greased 9-inch springform pan. Bake at 300°F for 20 minutes.
- Remove from oven. Raise the oven temperature to 500°F while preparing the filling.
To make the filling
- In a blender or food processor, cream the cheese and sugar.
- Add the flour and vanilla, then the eggs, one at a time, and the egg yolks, blending until uniform.
- Blend in the lemon juice (or liqueur).
To assemble, bake, and cool
- Pour the filling into the crust.
- Bake 10 minutes at 500°F, then reduce heat to 250°F and bake for another hour or until center just slightly wobbles, but is done. Note: If cake browns too quickly, lightly lay a sheet of aluminum foil on top.
- Let cake cool thoroughly on a rack. Refrigerate several hours, preferably overnight, before serving.
- May be garnished with fruit, if desired.
Jan Rood-Ojalvo has longstanding ties to Congregation M'kor Shalom and the Katz JCC, both in Cherry Hill, NJ. Jan, who lives with her husband Steve in Haddonfield, NJ, loves baking, traveling, opera, and staying in touch with her six children – and two granddaughters.