Post Game Analysis: The Ultimate Cheesecake

In my last post I discussed my tour through six different cheesecake recipes and the merits of each.  After tasting them all, and taking input from some lucky friends, I have honed in on my ideal cheesecake recipe, combining the best qualities of all the recipes I tried. It is a hybrid between the dense, New York cheesecake, and the fluffy, Israeli cheesecake.  It contains lemon zest. It has a butterscotch topping and a cookie crumb (or graham cracker) crust. It was baked in a water bath for perfect texture and beauty.  Below are the recipes in both Israeli and American versions, I hope you enjoy!

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Cheesecakes: American vs Israeli

Shavuot, the holiday of cheesecake…err, I mean, the holiday in which the Israelites receive the Torah, is here! No, but really, it’s all about the cheesecake.

Which makes this a great time to talk about Israeli and American cheesecakes. No, they are not the same.  American cheesecake, typically a “New York Style” cheesecake, is based on American cream cheese, which is quite thick, similar to a 30% fat shemenet.  New York Style cheesecake also calls for some flour, and is baked in a water bath to achieve the thick, custard-like texture.  A New York Style cheesecake is dense and creamy, and a thin sliver is all you need ; )

Israeli cheesecake, on the other hand, tends to be lighter, more airy.  This is primarily due to the difference cheeses used.  Instead of American style cream cheese, the classic being Philadelphia cream cheese (which is not easy to find in Israel), a combination of lower fat white cheese (gevinah lavanah and shemenet) and sometimes sweetened heavy cream (shemenet metukah) are used.

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Gouda (Israeli)

גאודה גוש גדולMy last post on Gouda described an imported gouda from Lithuania, imported by Willi Foods.  This week I wanted to make some quiche, and my recipe called for cheddar, which is not as common in Israel. So, I decided to use gouda instead, and specifically asked for an Israeli made gouda. My cheese counter had two types, one from Gad and one from Jacob’s Farm.  Randomly I chose the gouda from Jacob’s Farm, a dairy near Hadera specializing in high quality cheeses from cow, goat, and sheep.

I am happy to announce that the gouda from Jacob’s Farm was definitely tastier and more pungent than the cheaper, imported version.  The cheese was made from cow’s milk, with 28% fat, and had a nice yellow rind. (side note: I haven’t been able to convince the ladies at my cheese counter to remove rinds from cheeses in order to grate them for me. So, the only downside of buying higher quality cheeses with rinds is that if you want it grated, you have to do it yourself at home, or find a better cheese lady.)  This dairy also sells gouda cheeses flavored with cumin or herbs, and a special 6 month aged gouda. By the way, the quiche came out great. If you’re interested in trying it, here is my recipe. Enjoy!

Veggie Gouda Quiche

What I love about this quiche is its adaptability: you can use the same basic recipe with whatever combination of cooked vegetables you have on hand.  It is fairly easy to make and has the perfect consistency.  This recipe calls for gouda cheese, but you can also use cheddar, swiss, or whatever you like.

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Tvorog (טבורוג)

TvorogTvorog is a Russian cheese with a consistency somewhere in between American style cream cheese and farmer’s cheese.  It may also be called Russian cottage cheese, farmer’s cheese, or quark.  I bought some by weight from my favorite cheese counter during Passover because it looked like the perfect spread for matzah, and it was!  The tvorog I tried was from Parili dairy with 5% fat from cow’s milk.  There was another tvorog from Moshava dairy with 9% fat, and both dairies sold a variety with golden raisins mixed in.  The flavor of tvorog is very mild and fresh, and for this reason it lends itself well to sweet or savory recipes, such as pancakes, pastries or pierogies.  I suspect that it could also be a good substitute for cream cheese in recipes.

Apparently it is also easy to make at home, see here and here.