Not how my mother makes it

Attempts to produce the sweet cheese creations from a new recipe book yielded mixed results.

cheesecake 88 (photo credit: )
cheesecake 88
(photo credit: )
Ugot Gvina (Cheese Cakes) By Ruth Oliver Kineret/Zmora Bitan 175 pages; NIS 98 When it comes to cheesecakes, I am usually a purist. Guests never fail to drool over my cheesecake prepared using my mother's recipe, and while I have tried countless others, I have never been able to match it. It is adapted from the "Mix, beat and pour" recipe printed on the back of the Australian version of Philadelphia cheese, and like the cheese itself, it is a classic. But when a colleague showed me Ruth Oliver's Ugot Gvina, I was intrigued. Unlike other Israeli cheesecake recipe books I have come across, it does not merely provide a series of cakes made with white cheese - with the toppings being the only variation - with token recipes for no-bake cheesecake at the end. The book offers a variety of recipes for the beginner to the advanced baker. More experienced cooks can try cheese strudel, yeast buns filled with ricotta and cherries or cheese and raisin ice-cream, and beginners can have fun with such recipes as strawberries and cream or cheese and passionfruit mousse. The book provides both weight and volume measurements. Though it is clearly sponsored by Tnuva, the names of the cheeses and the number of containers required, also specified in the recipes, are actually helpful to the reader. Yet my first attempts at testing recipes from the book left me disappointed. The chocolate-covered cheese pyramid came out looking as spectacular as it was presented in the book, but it was impossibly sweet. A more serious flaw is the chocolate topping, which is made with the improbable ratio of 100 gr. of chocolate to 60 ml. water and 250 ml. cream. Not surprisingly, the topping had a water-like consistency and did not stick to the pyramid. The chocolate-orange cheesecake, which I made next, also looked attractive, but the cake, made with a dry crumbly cheese, was too dry and did not hold together when cut. Fortunately my next two attempts (the recipes are given below) were successful, but upon examining the book further I found that this book too, while providing creative recipes, overuses the ubiquitous Israeli white cheese. CREAMY CHEESE and WHITE CHOCOLATE TART Although the recipe calls for a tart tin, I found this type of dish left insufficient room for the filling, so I recommend a deeper pan. The overall result was creamy and smooth, if a little too sweet. Base: 200 gr. (12⁄3 cups) crushed cookie crumbs 45 gr. (3 Tbsp.) brown sugar 1 Tbsp. cocoa 100 gr. melted butter Filling: 120 ml. (1⁄2 cup) cream 100 gr. chopped white chocolate containers (500 gr.) 5% white cheese 1 can (400 gr.) sweetened condensed milk 1 Tbsp. cornstarch 3 eggs 1 tsp. vanilla extract Topping: 100 ml. (1⁄2 cup minus 1 Tbsp.) cream 100 gr. chopped white chocolate Decoration: Fresh raspberries (optional) To make the base, mix the cookie crumbs with the sugar and cocoa. Add the butter and mix well. Spread over the base and sides of a 26-cm. tart pan or eight 8-cm. tart pans and place in the freezer for 15 minutes. Heat the oven to 150 degrees C. Bring the cream for the filling to the boil, pour over the chocolate, wait a minute or two and stir. Cool to room temperature. Add the rest of the filling ingredients and mix. Pour over the base and bake 30 minutes for the tartlets and 40 minutes for the cake. Cool and refrigerate for at least half an hour. Bring the cream for the topping to the boil, pour over the chocolate, wait a minute or two and stir until smooth. Spread the topping over the cake. Refrigerate until serving. Decorate with raspberries if desired. CHEESE FLOWERS Though many cooks are afraid of baking with yeast, there is something magical about it. For those who are feeling adventurous, this recipe for mini-brioche is actually easy to follow and the results are worthwhile. Don't be scared to add a few spoonfuls of flour if the dough is too hard to work with. Dough: 25 gr. (1⁄2 packet) yeast 200 ml. (3⁄4 cup plus 1 Tbsp.) water 490 gr. (3 1⁄2 cups) high-gluten "bread" flour 100 gr. (1⁄2 cup) sugar 1 egg 1 container (250 ml.) cream 1 tsp. vanilla extract 100 gr. cold butter cut into cubes Filling: 250 gr. "Canaan" cheese 100 gr. cream cheese 80 gr. (1⁄2 cup minus 2 Tbsp.) sugar zest of 1 lemon 1 tsp. vanilla extract 2 egg yolks 50 gr. (1⁄3 cup) raisins 1⁄2 tsp. cinnamon Glaze: 1 egg yolk 4 Tbsp. sugar 50 gr. (2⁄3 cup) flaked almonds Syrup: 1 cup (200 gr.) sugar 1 cup (240 ml.) water 60 gr. (3 Tbsp. honey Knead the dough ingredients, except the butter, in a mixer with a dough hook for 12 minutes. Add the butter one cube at a time, until it is all absorbed into the dough. Transfer to a floured bowl, cover in cling film and refrigerate overnight or at least six hours. Process the filling ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Heat the oven to 200 degrees C. To assemble the brioche, knead the dough on a floured surface until it is easy to work with. Divide into four equal portions. Roll each portion into a 0.5-cm.-thick square and cut each into four 10-cm. squares. Place each square on a 7-cm. ring or aluminum cups and push inside, so that there is a slight overhang. Pipe the filling into the dough, and close like an envelope. Brush with egg yolk and sprinkle with sugar and almonds. Leave to rise for 10 minutes. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the dough is cooked and the cakes are browned. Cook the syrup ingredients for 5 minutes until the sugar has dissolved and the syrup has thickened. Takes the brioches out of the oven and brush with syrup. MIX, BEAT AND POUR I can't resist including this recipe. This cheesecake is not only the best I have tested, it is also the easiest to prepare. It has very few ingredients and requires no egg separating. For best results, use Philadelphia cheese, but regular cream cheese also produces good results. Base: 200 gr. cookie crumbs 100 gr. melted butter Filling: 750 gr. full-fat cream cheese 1 cup sugar 1 tsp. vanilla extract 4 eggs Topping: 600 ml. sour cream 2 Tbsp. sugar 1⁄2 tsp. vanilla extract Mix base ingredients and spread over the bottom of a 26-cm. springform tin. Using an electric mixer, beat filling ingredients, pour over base and bake for 35 minutes in a preheated 160 degrees C oven. Cool in oven. Mix topping ingredients, spread over cake and bake for five minutes at 180 degrees C. Cool and refrigerate.