Desserts for Passover, which begins at sundown on April 8, can be a challenge because the use of leaveners (flour, baking powder, baking soda) is not permitted.
Many Passover cakes and other baked goods rely on eggs for the leavening and use matzo cake meal. Some also rely on ground nuts for flavor and to replace the flour. Be sure to use the freshest nuts as possible.
Baking extracts also are not allowed because they are made with alcohol, which is fermented. Sometimes you can simply omit the extract without compromising flavor. Vanilla powder or vanilla sugar can be substituted. You will find them in packets at baking supply stores, specialty stores or in the baking or ethnic aisles of some grocery stores. If a recipe calls for 1 teaspoon vanilla extract you can use 1 tablespoon vanilla powder or vanilla sugar.
Today's Passover Lemon Cheesecake is a pure delight and a favorite from our archives. It's great for any springtime holiday. This is an ideal dessert recipe to serve with a dairy, or parve, meal. (Jewish dietary rules forbid eating meat and dairy at the same meal.)
Matzo - ground or in sheets - is used in many recipes during Passover. The cracker-like sheets symbolize the bread that had no time to rise as the Jewish people fled Egypt. In this recipe, it's used in the crust along with toasted almonds, sugar and butter. (It's important to note that those observing Passover use ingredients that are labeled kosher for Passover.)
This cheesecake has a bright lemony flavor and it bakes up nice and tall. A small sliver of it is satisfying. The original recipe called for 2 teaspoons of lemon zest for the filling. Because I love lemon, especially in desserts, I added more.
Tip: Before making the filling, set the eggs and cream cheese out at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. This takes the chill out of them, allowing the filling to whip up nice and fluffy with no solid pieces of cream cheese.
After Passover, you can switch over to your favorite crust. You also can top this cheesecake with fresh sliced fruit or a fruit sauce. It can be made up to two days ahead.
PASSOVER LEMON CHEESECAKE
Serves: 10 (or more) servings / Preparation time: 30 minutes
Total time: 5 hours (includes cooling time)
For those observing Passover, be sure to use ingredients that are labeled kosher for Passover.
3/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted and cooled
2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup matzo cake meal or matzo meal finely ground
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
3 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 heaping tablespoon grated lemon zest
Curls or julienne of lemon zest
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees with the rack in middle.
In a food processor, pulse almonds, sugar, matzo cake meal and salt in a food processor until finely ground. Transfer to a bowl and stir in butter until combined well. Press the mixture onto the bottom and 1 inch up the side of a 9-inch springform pan.
Bake until the crust is firm and a shade darker, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool crust completely in pan on a rack.
Meanwhile, make filling.
Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees.
In a mixing bowl, beat together the cream cheese and sugar at medium speed until smooth and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low and add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in zest and vanilla.
Put the springform pan in a shallow baking pan and pour filling into cooled crust. Bake until filling is set 1 1/2 inches from edge but center is wobbly, about 45 to 50 minutes (filling will continue to set as it cools).
Remove from the oven and transfer cake in pan to a rack and immediately run a knife around edge; let it cool about 30 minutes. Then remove the side of the pan and cool completely, about 2 to 3 hours.
Adapted from and tested by Susan Selasky for the Free Press Test Kitchen.
457 calories (65 percent from fat), 33 g fat (18 g saturated fat), 32 g carbohydrates, 9 g protein, 241 mg sodium, 144 mg cholesterol, 1 g fiber.
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