Pascale's Kitchen: Fancy cheesecakes for Shavuot

Because we are just before the holiday of Shavuot, I decided to present to you, my readers, three recipes for cheesecakes, all of which are very dear to me.

 Apple cheesecake (photo credit: ANTOLY MICHAELO from book ‘Pascale’s Cakes’)
Apple cheesecake
(photo credit: ANTOLY MICHAELO from book ‘Pascale’s Cakes’)

When I first began making my way in the culinary world, all I had to my name was a small notebook in which I’d scribbled down beloved recipes I remembered from my childhood. In the end, these were the recipes that appeared in the first cookbook I published. 

Now, four decades later, I have gained tremendous experience in the culinary world and discovered entire worlds of flavors and textures from different cultures. I’ve published over 15 cookbooks, authored countless cooking columns in magazines and newspapers, and participated in numerous TV and radio culinary programs. I’ve concocted endless new and creative recipes, taught classes and led workshops in professional culinary schools. 

For more of Pascale's recipes, click here>>

When I sat back recently and tried to think in which areas I’ve improved over the last four decades, I realized that it’s probably my photography skills. 

The very first camera I ever used to take pictures of my culinary creations was a Polaroid, which required that you first adjust the focus on the object you were planning to take a picture of. Back in those days, the only way to get a cookbook published was to work with a publisher. Nowadays, it’s much easier to self-publish and do all the work yourself. Some people use crowdfunding to raise the necessary funds to cover printing costs. 

Another huge difference is there was no Internet at the time. When it was time for me to create an online presence, I was a bit hesitant at first, but I quickly began connecting with followers, and now my online presence has become quite popular.

 PASCALE PREPARES. (credit: ANTOLY MICHAELO from book ‘Pascale’s Cakes’) PASCALE PREPARES. (credit: ANTOLY MICHAELO from book ‘Pascale’s Cakes’)

One of the most important ways to gain popularity is by using only high-quality, professional images, and so I invested in a quality camera for just this purpose. Over the years, I’ve learned tips and techniques for photographing the culinary delights I create from a number of professional photographers. Not only do I currently do all my own photo shoots, I do all the styling, too. 

For a while, Facebook was the main social network, with Instagram following soon after. Soon enough, everyone was walking around with their own personal smartphone which they could use to take lots of top-quality pictures until they find one with the perfect angle. 

So, I began thinking, how do I want to celebrate 40 years of culinary experiences? Since one of my biggest loves is baking cakes, I decided I’d prepare the best cake I’ve ever made. The only problem was, how to pick which cake is my all-time favorite? What a daunting endeavor! Over the years, I’ve published cookbooks that included hundreds of cake recipes, and I love every single one of them.

In the end, because we are just before the holiday of Shavuot, I decided to present to you, my readers, three recipes for cheesecakes, all of which are very dear to me. All three appeared in my cookbook Pascale’s Cakes, and require a bit of planning and advance preparation. 

The first is a recipe for apple cheesecake that combines slices of apricot roll cake, with apple or date filling inside, and hazelnuts. The cheesecake then needs to set in the fridge overnight. 

The second recipe is for a fancy chocolate cheesecake that is perfect for impressing guests at a festive meal. It does require a number of complicated steps, but it is well worth the effort. For best results, it’s important to read all the instructions before you start putting the cake together. 

The third recipe is for white chocolate and yogurt mousse. If you adore the mild sour flavor of yogurt, combined with white chocolate mousse, silan and tehina, this is the perfect dessert for you. 

Wishing all of my readers a lovely Shavuot holiday

APPLE CHEESECAKE 

Makes 2 cakes 30 cm. x 30 cm., and 1 springform cake with 28-cm. diameter.

Rolls: 

  • 6 eggs, separated
  • 6 Tbsp. sugar
  • 6 Tbsp. flour, sifted
  • 2 Tbsp. oil
  • 1 can apple filling
  • 2-3 tsp. chopped hazelnuts
  • Baking paper

Filling:

  • 1 cup water
  • 2 packets (28 gr.) flavorless gelatin
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 3 Tbsp. Curaçao liqueur
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla
  • 2 containers (500 gr.) white spread cheese 5%
  • 2 containers sweet cream

Toppings:

  • 2 Granny Smith apples, quartered or sliced, cooked in water sweetened with sugar
  • ½ cup whipped cream

To prepare the rolls, whip the egg whites on high speed, then gradually add the sugar and whip until stiff peaks form. Gently fold in the egg yolks, flour and oil. 

Grease the two square pans, line them with baking paper and then grease the paper, too. 

Pour half of the batter in the first pan, and the other half in the second, and flatten. Bake in an oven that has been preheated to 180° for 10-15 minutes. Remove from the oven, and flip the cakes over onto clean towels. Peel off the baking paper, roll up the dough into logs and let cool. 

Mix the apple filling and the hazelnuts in a bowl. Gently open the dough logs and spread the apple filling on both, then roll them back up.

Slice the logs into 1-cm.-thick slices, then use them to line the bottom and sides of the round pan. 

To prepare the filling, add the water and gelatin to a small pot and mix. Heat over a low flame until the gelatin has completely dissolved. Do not let the water boil. Let cool. 

Whip the egg yolks on high speed and gradually add 1 cup of sugar. Continue whipping until mixture becomes firm. Fold in the liqueur, vanilla and the cheese. 

Whip the sweet cream. Fold the water with the gelatin into the cheese mixture. Next, fold in half of the whipped cream, then the other half. 

Whip the egg whites on high speed. Gradually add the rest of the sugar and continue whipping for a few minutes. Fold the egg white mixture into the cheese mixture, then pour the filling onto the round dish that is lined with the log slices. Flatten and place in the fridge overnight. 

Level of difficulty: Medium. Time: 1¼ hours.Status: Dairy.

 Chocolate cheesecake (credit: ANTOLY MICHAELO from book ‘Pascale’s Cakes’) Chocolate cheesecake (credit: ANTOLY MICHAELO from book ‘Pascale’s Cakes’)
CHOCOLATE CHEESECAKE

Use a 26-cm.-diameter springform pan.

Dough No. 1:

  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 200 gr. butter
  • Zest from 1 lemon
  • Zest from 1 orange
  • ½ tsp. vanilla
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2¾ cups flour, sifted

Dough No. 2:

  • 3 eggs
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ tsp. vanilla
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup flour, sifted
  • 3 Tbsp. nougat, chocolate or apricot spread
  • Baking paper

Filling:

  • 75 gr. butter
  • 300 gr. bittersweet chocolate
  • ¾ cup powdered sugar
  • 3 Tbsp. water
  • 1 packet (14 gr.) gelatin
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2 containers (500 gr.) spread white cheese 5%
  • ¼ tsp. rum flavored concentrate
  • 1 Tbsp. chocolate liqueur
  • 2 containers sweet cream

Icing:

  • 200 gr. white chocolate
  • 1/3 container sweet cream

Toppings:

  • 150 gr. bittersweet chocolate, grated
  • 3 Tbsp. chocolate swirls

To prepare dough No. 1, add all of the dough ingredients, except for the flour, to the bowl of a food processor, and mix. Add the flour and mix, but don’t overmix. Place in the fridge for 20 minutes. 

Flatten the dough onto the bottom of a springform pan and dock the pastry with a fork. Place in the freezer for 10 minutes. Preheat your oven to 190° and bake the dough for 20 minutes. Remove and let cool. 

To prepare dough No. 2, beat the eggs on high speed. Gradually add the sugar, vanilla and salt, and keep mixing until dough becomes light and airy. Fold in the flour. 

Press the dough into the bottom of a pan lined with baking paper until it is 0.5 cm. thick. Bake in an oven that has been preheated to medium/high for 10 minutes until the dough turns golden brown. Remove and let cool.

Leave the first dough in the pan and spread the nougat/chocolate/apricot spread on it. Then, cover with dough No. 2. 

To prepare the filling, add the butter, chocolate and sugar in a small pot and heat it over a bain-marie or melt in the microwave in a glass bowl. Mix well until all of the chocolate and sugar has dissolved. 

Mix the water with the gelatin in a bowl until all of the gelatin has dissolved. Pour the gelatin into the chocolate mixture and mix. Let it cool, then add the egg yolks and mix well. 

Transfer the chocolate mixture to a large bowl, then gently fold in the cheese, rum and liqueur. Whip the cream until it becomes firm, then fold it into the chocolate mixture. 

Pour the mixture onto the cake and spread it all around. Set the cake in the fridge for 3 hours so it can set. 

To prepare the icing, melt the white chocolate with the cream over a bain-marie or in the microwave. Mix until the chocolate has dissolved. Let the icing cool, while stirring. Pour it over the cake before it hardens. Place the cake in the fridge until the icing has hardened. 

Before serving, remove the sides of the springform pan and add the icing to the sides of the cake. Top the cake with the chocolate pieces. 

Level of difficulty: Difficult. Time: 4 hours.Status: Dairy.

 White chocolate and yogurt mousse (credit: ANTOLY MICHAELO from book ‘Pascale’s Cakes’) White chocolate and yogurt mousse (credit: ANTOLY MICHAELO from book ‘Pascale’s Cakes’)
WHITE CHOCOLATE AND YOGURT MOUSSE

Use an oval or circular 24-cm.-diameter pan.

Mousse: 

  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 200 gr. white chocolate, melted
  • ¼ cup milk
  • ½ packet (7 gr.) gelatin
  • 1 container (250 ml.) sweet cream
  • 3 Tbsp. sugar

Crust:

  • 1 package ladyfinger cookies, or a ready-made crust
  • ½ cup milk

Yogurt filling:

  • ¼ cup milk
  • ½ packet (7 gr.) gelatin
  • 1 container (250 ml.) sweet cream
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 container (150 ml.) yogurt

Drizzle:

  • 2 Tbsp. silan
  • 2 Tbsp. raw tehina

Toppings: 

  • ¼ cup white chocolate swirls
  • ¼ cup bittersweet chocolate swirls

Icing:

  • ½ container sweet cream, whipped with 1 Tbsp. sugar

Whisk the egg with the egg yolk in a bowl, then, while continuing to mix with fast strokes, add the melted chocolate. 

Dissolve the gelatin in the milk over a bain-marie or in the microwave. While mixing, add the dissolved gelatin to the chocolate mixture. 

Using an electric mixer, whip the cream with the sugar until it forms stiff peaks. Gently fold half of the cream into the chocolate, then the other half. 

Dip the ladyfingers into the milk, then place them in the bottom of the pan. Pour the chocolate mousse on top of the cookies. Cover the cake well with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 2-3 hours so the mousse can set. 

To prepare the yogurt filling, melt the gelatin in the milk in a bain-marie or in the microwave. 

Whip the cream with an electric mixer and, while mixing, add the sugar and mix until firm. 

Fold half of the gelatin and yogurt into the cream, then the other half. 

Pour the mixture over the chocolate mousse and flatten. Cover the cake well with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 2-3 hours so it can set. 

To prepare the drizzle, mix the silan and tehina together in a bowl, then drizzle over the mousse. Add the chocolate swirls. Transfer the icing to a pastry bag with a serrated tip and add icing to surface of mousse. Store in the fridge until serving. 

Level of difficulty: Medium. Time: 5 hours.Status: Dairy.

Translated by Hannah Hochner.