Pascale's Kitchen: Cheesecakes for Shavuot

Shavuot is a time for renewal and celebrating the wheat harvest in the Land of Israel. This year, I decided to offer my readers a nice variety of cheesecake recipes.

Strawberry cheesecake (photo credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)
Strawberry cheesecake
(photo credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)
At first glance it might seem that making a cheesecake is a daunting process, since there are so many steps, but each one is actually quite simple. Once you understand the concept of putting a cheesecake together, it becomes much easier. Every year, I prepare two separate cheesecakes for Shavuot; the first is a baked cheesecake that Grandma Esther used to make, and the second is a cold, no-bake creamy cheesecake. Some years, though, I like to prepare something more modern and interesting.
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Shavuot is a time for renewal and celebrating the wheat harvest in the Land of Israel. This year, I decided to offer my readers a nice variety of cheesecake recipes, including one with fruit and white chocolate, which is absolutely mouthwatering.
I reached out to Chen Shukrun, who produces a popular blog called Metukim Sheli. Shukrun creates unique recipes for bakeries and confectionery manufacturers. She is also a stylist and food photographer.
Shukrun began her blog over a decade ago while she was on maternity leave, at which point she realized that she loved this type of work much more than she did her hi-tech job, since she was able to combine her love for baking, writing and photography. She soon became inundated with requests from large food importers for new recipes and artistic photographs of her concoctions, and began publishing on Mako and Ynet.
Four of Shukrun’s mouthwatering recipes are presented below: Mascarpone cheesecake with lemon, white chocolate with passion fruit, an Eton mess cake, and a mascarpone mango cheesecake. Each one looks more beautiful than the next.

ETON MESS CHEESECAKE WITH STRAWBERRIES AND MERINGUE
Use a 22-cm. diameter pan.
Base:
150 g. ground petit beurre
100 g. melted butter
Filling:
3 containers (675 g.) cream cheese 25%
1 container (500 g.) cream cheese 5% or 9%
1¼ cups (250 g.) sugar
5 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
Lemon zest from 1 medium lemon
1 Tbsp. (15 ml.) fresh lemon juice
Strawberry filling:
1 package (300 g.) frozen or fresh strawberries
1/3 cup (65 g.) + 2 Tbsp. (20 g.) sugar
20 g. butter
1 tsp. cornflour
2 tsp. water
Whipped cream:
1 container (250 ml.) sweet cream 38%
2 Tbsp. powdered sugar
Toppings:
Whole or halved fresh strawberries
Meringue kisses
To prepare the base, line a pan with baking paper. Line the pan with a double layer of aluminum foil.
Preheat your oven to 160ºC (320ºF) and add a large deep pan to the middle shelf of the oven. Mix the petit beurre with the butter and press down into the prepared pan. Store in the fridge.
To prepare the filling, mix the cheeses in a bowl with the sugar and lemon zest. Add the eggs one at a time, missing well in between each one. Add the vanilla and lemon juice and mix well until smooth. Pour the filling carefully onto the cooled base.
Place the pan inside the larger pan in the oven and pour boiling water in the surrounding larger pan. Carefully close the oven door and bake for 80 minutes until the cake turns golden brown. Open the door of the oven a crack (you can use a wooden spatula to keep it from closing). Let the cake cool down inside the oven for an hour. Then take it out and let it come to room temperature. Place in the fridge overnight.
To prepare the strawberry filling, place the strawberries in a medium pot with 1/3 cup of sugar and bring to a boil. Lower the flame and cook for 5 minutes until the strawberries are very soft and beginning to fall apart.
Use an immersion blender to blend strawberries, and then strain mixture. Return the strained sauce to the pot and add 2 tablespoons of sugar and the butter. Bring to a boil. In a small pot, melt the cornflour with 2 teaspoons of water. Slowly pour into the strawberries, while mixing quickly. Remove from the flame and strain again. Store in an airtight container.
To put the cake together, take the cake out of the pan and place it on a serving plate. Pour the strawberry filling on top, letting it drip down the sides. Add the meringue kisses and strawberry halves. Whip the sweet cream with the powdered sugar and drizzle over top. Before serving, place the cake in the fridge for 30-60 minutes to let the meringue soften.

MASCARPONE CHEESE AND LEMON CAKE
Use a 24-cm. diameter pan.
Base:
150 g. petit beurre crumbs
50 g. ground almonds
70 g. melted butter
Filling:
2 containers (500 g.) mascarpone cheese or cream cheese 25%
2 containers (500 g.) unsalted ricotta cheese (or 5% or 9% cream cheese)
1 cup (200 g.) sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 Tbsp. (15 ml.) lemon juice
2 tsp. lemon zest (from 2 large lemons)
4 large eggs
Icing:
1 container (250 g.) mascarpone cheese
1 container (250 g.) sweet cream 38%
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 Tbsp. powdered sugar (if you want it to be really sweet, use 4 Tbsp.)
To prepare the base, line a tray with baking paper and cover it with aluminum foil on top. Heat your oven to 160ºC (320ºF).
Mix the petit beurre crumbs with the ground almonds and melted butter. Press it down into the pan tightly and then put in the fridge.
To prepare the filling, add both of the cheeses to a bowl and mix with a silicone spatula. Add the sugar, vanilla, zest and lemon juice. Mix well. Add the eggs, mixing in between each one. Mix well.
Pour the filling onto the base and then place the pan inside another larger and deeper pan. Pour boiling water into the outer pan so that it goes up to half of the height of the smaller pan. Bake for 60 minutes, until the top of the cake browns but still jiggles a little. Remove the cake pan from the pan with the water and let cool down to room temperature. Store in the fridge for an entire night.
To prepare the icing, whip the cheese with an electric mixer together with the sweet cream, the vanilla and the powdered sugar. Transfer to a pastry bag with a Saint Honore pastry tip (or just cut the tip off the bag). Add half circles onto the cake in the shape of a fan. Store in the fridge until serving.

CHEESE, WHITE CHOCOLATE AND PASSION FRUIT CAKE
Use a 24-cm. diameter pan.
Base:
100 g. ground petit beurre
1 cup (70 g.) ground coconut
100 g. melted butter
Filling:
100 g. white chocolate, broken into pieces
25 g. butter
1/3 cup (80 ml.) strained passion fruit juice (fresh or from frozen)
2 containers (500 g.) mascarpone cheese
1 cup (120 g.) powdered sugar
2 containers (500 ml.) sweet cream 38%
2 Tbsp. (20 g.) powdered sugar
Toppings:
100 g. white chocolate
3-4 passion fruits
To prepare the base, mix the petit beurre with the coconut and the melted butter. Press the mixture into the bottom of a pan (you can use the back of a spoon to press it down firmly). Add a cake collar to the inside wall of the pan and place in the fridge.
To prepare the filling, add the white chocolate, butter and juice to a glass bowl and heat it a few seconds at a time in the microwave until it’s melted. Stir well and let cool a little.
In a separate bowl, mix together the cheese and the powdered sugar. Add the chocolate mixture and mix well. In the bowl of a mixer, whip the sweet cream with the rest of the powdered sugar (2 Tbsp.) until whipped cream is firm. Fold the whipped cream into the cheese mixture one-third at a time. Pour the mixture onto the cake base and flatten top using a frosting spatula. Store in the fridge overnight.
To prepare the white chocolate swirls, melt the chocolate in the microwave for a few seconds at a time. Mix well until smooth and silky. Pour the chocolate over a clean counter surface or a large baking pan. Using a spatula, even out the chocolate to as thin a layer as possible. Let the chocolate harden at room temperature until it loses all its shininess – about 10 minutes. Don’t wait until it’s completely hardened though (and don’t put it in the fridge to speed up process).
Using a long, sharp knife (not serrated) or a vegetable peeler, scrape curls of chocolate by holding the knife of peeler perpendicular to the layer of chocolate. Start on the section closer to you and peel a layer off away from you. Store the chocolate swirls in an airtight container and only place them on top of the cake just before serving.
After placing the chocolate swirls on the cake, add the fresh passion fruit seeds.
If you want the sides to be smooth, best to put the cake in the freezer for 30-60 minutes before serving. Remove the cake collar carefully.
There’s no need to put the cake in the freezer, as it will set nicely in the fridge.
MASCARPONE CHEESE AND MANGO CAKE
Use a 24-cm. diameter pan.
1 sleeve (250 g.) of petit beurre cookies (you might not need all of them)
3 medium mangos (500 g.) (you can use peaches or apricots instead)
¼ cup (50 g.) sugar
1 container (250 g.) mascarpone cheese
2 containers (500 g.) sweet cream 38%
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup minus 2 Tbsp. (100 g.) powdered sugar
Topping:
2-3 mangos
Apricot nappage, diluted with water, ir 2 Tbsp. apricot jam mixed with 1 Tbsp. water
Peel and cut up the mangos into cubes. Add them to a bowl and pour the sugar on top. Mix every once in a while.
To prepare the filling, add the mascarpone, sweet cream, vanilla and powdered sugar to the bowl of a mixer. Mix on low speed until all the ingredients are mixed in, then whip on high speed until soft and firm.
To put the cake together, place a cake collar around the inner edge of the pan (optional). Add a layer of the petit beurre (you can break some of them so that they fit).
Spread 1/3 of the mascarpone cream mixture on the cookies and then ½ of the mangos and the syrup. Then add another layer of petit beurre cookies, a second layer of cream and then more mangos. Add one more layer of cream, cover and store in the fridge overnight. If you’ve used a cake collar, before serving, put the cake in the freezer for 30-60 minutes before removing the collar.
Before serving, cut the mangos into large pieces, with the skin still on. Using a melon baller, scoop half balls out of the mango pieces and arrange them on top of the cake, starting around the edge and working your way in. you can brush top of cake with apricot nappage that has been diluted with water.
Translated by Hannah Hochner.