There are desserts, and then there is cheesecake, the thick creamy richness that is the test of every great patissier.
Everyone can make a cheesecake, and you can even find no-bake versions – but standing out, that is the real challenge. Israeli bakeries step up to the plate for Shavuot because in advance of that one day of the year, they sell more cheesecakes than during the whole rest of the year.
So who is doing it best? Metro hit the road to find out.
This article features a number of different bakeries, all with more than one location. I have a complicated relationship with franchises. I used to prefer small, independent bakeries, but some great chains have opened up throughout the country.
What I hate is the idea that food can be standardized and distributed without allowing room for all the different ingredients that have just come into season – or for spontaneity.
But, that said, there are some wonderful places that have developed innovative menus and sell all over the country. The nice thing is that there is a good chance you can find one near you.
Lalush is a small franchise with a bakery in Tzomet Shilat, near Modi’in, and a store on Rechov Agrippas, near the Machaneh Yehuda market in Jerusalem. Its cheesecake selection is impressive, featuring many different varieties. My favorite was their prepackaged selection of what they call “Cheese Mousse,” which comes in small plastic cones shaped like shot glasses and is topped with wild berries, crumble, or butterfingers?? maybe this is ladyfingers with tiramisu.
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The mousse was light and fluffy, with just a hint of cheese. The toppings were intensely flavorful and my dining partner and I fought over who got to finish off the tiramisu. Lalush also carries traditional cheese cakes in a number of different styles, ranging from cheesecake wrapped in brioche dough to a light ricotta cake. You can order in advance or visit its stores.
Lechem Erez is for a high-end market, with branches all over the country. It sells a variety of gourmet products including breads, cheeses, olives and baked goods. For Shavuot, it has created some special dishes – the two best, in this reviewer’s opinion, being its traditional cheesecake with a flakey crust on the bottom and a layer of cream on top, and a coffee-cake-style cheesecake with raisins and a crumb topping.
Lechem Erez prides itself on using seasonal ingredients without any artificial colors or flavors, and it has an extensive organic selection.
Roladin is a bakery located in most major malls throughout Israel – not usually a symbol of high quality and unfailing commitment to innovative food. But Roladin is so popular because it is so good. The Hakak brothers have created a chain of bakeries that produce well-thought-out and delicious baked goods.
Their cheesecakes are no exception: My favorite was the passion-fruit cheesecake, in which the sweet, creamy cheese beautifully complemented the slightly tart passion-fruit on top. They also had a great tiramisu.
Kapulsky’s is an Israeli classic, the first cafe franchise in the country, and it has been opening new restaurants and changing its menu to meet the times.
I enjoyed my cheesecake with a crumble topping and blueberry sauce on the open patio in the Modi’in branch, along with a cafe Americano. The cheesecake was light and fluffy and the sauce was exceptionally sweet.
Kapulsky’s is not into taking culinary risks and there was nothing new in what I was served, but it does the classics well. I got an individual-sized portion, but they will have large cakes on sale for the holidays.
Gidron is the brand name of the Supersol supermarkets bakery. Its cakes are sold fresh or packaged in the freezer section – it suggests letting the cakes defrost in the refrigerator for one day before serving. Gidron has a variety of flavors to choose from including classic cheesecake with crumble topping, wildberry cheesecake, chocolate mousse cake, white chocolate and dulce de leche and white-dark chocolate mousse cake. The classic cheesecake is rich and creamy, and despite coming out of my freezer, it was delightfully light and tasted fresh.
For those who love rich, creamy dairy desserts and want the choice of going with something other than cheesecakes, their other flavors are a good option. While I don’t consider the Gidron brand high-end, it is affordable and accessible to all those who want a delicious Shavuot treat.
Mechlevana has some really great products that are interesting for two reasons.
One, this is the only cheesecake that I made myself, because what they sell makes it so simple. Forget the other “Make your own cheesecake” packs that are hitting the supermarket racks because this one whips up in five minutes flat.
It consists of a container that looks like a large yogurt pot. You pour
the contents into a bowl and beat with a hand-blender. Once the mixture
is light and fluffy you can either put it into an empty pie tin, or buy
one with a premade crust (graham cracker recommended). The other
reason is these really awesome, chocolate-covered frozen cheesecake
sticks called “Roli,” which I have never seen anywhere else. They are
like a combination of ice cream and cheesecake, with a filling in the
middle. The filling flavors I tried were cherry, wildberry and dulce de
leche – and everyone who sampled them agreed that the dulce de leche
was by far the best.
When it comes
to Shavuot, Israelis take their cheesecake seriously. Leading up to
the holiday there is an impressive variety to choose from. However you
like your cheesecake, you can find it if you look around.
Try something new and different, or stay with the classics. Either way, with this array of cheesecakes, you can’t lose.
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