Israeli Cheesecake, Kind of
Suddenly longing for the Israeli cheesecake I remembered fondly, I embarked on a search spanning two continents for that classic recipe. I bridged present and past, finally putting together the long-lost recipe thanks to the help of newly found old friends, my sister and the Internet. Alas, the old-country recipe called for ingredients not readily available in DC-area markets. My search for authenticity seemed doomed. But like many an immigrant before me, I made the adjustments to create something that, if not exactly the same, is definitely very close in texture and flavor to that original, and maybe even better. Is it an Israeli cheesecake? Kind of. But I’m pleased with it.
- 6 large eggs
- 1 16-ounce package farmers cheese
- 16 ounces sour cream
- 1¼ cups sugar, divided
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 6 tablespoons potato starch
- Zest of 1 small lemon
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- Pinch of sea salt
- Caramelized Peaches
- 4–6 peaches, depending on if you want to decorate the cake or serve a peach half with each slice
- About 2 teaspoons raw turbinado sugar
- Remove dairy and eggs from the refrigerator and bring to room temperature. Place a large pan of water on the lowest rack of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 10-inch springform pan and set aside.
- Separate the eggs and place the whites in a clean mixing bowl. In a food processor, mix the cheese, sour cream, ¾ cup sugar, butter, potato starch, vanilla extract, lemon zest and salt until smooth and well blended. Add the yolks to the cheese mix and pulsate just until incorporated.
- Beat the egg whites on low to foam, continue to beat on high speed as you pour in the remaining ½ cup of sugar in a slow trickle until stiff peaks form. Mix a few heaping tablespoons of the beaten whites into the cheese mixture. Gently fold the cheese mixture, one-third at a time, into the whites until incorporated.
- Gently pour batter into the greased pan, place the pan on the middle rack of the preheated oven and bake for 1 hour, 15 minutes minutes, until the top is uniformly golden brown and baked evenly. If the middle seems giggly and not evenly baked, continue baking for 5 to 10 more minutes, until evenly baked. Turn off the oven and let cake cool in the oven for about 2 hours. Place in the refrigerator to chill before serving.
- Shortly before serving, halve and pit peaches, and place skin-side down on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with raw turbinado sugar and place under a broiler for few minutes. Watch closely and take out as soon as the tops are lightly caramelized. Serve on top of or alongside cheesecake.