How to make the
perfect cheesecake for Shavuot.
Stories by Elizabeth Applebaum
Special to the Jewish News
f spiders and being in high places
top the list of Americans' greatest
fears, the challenge of making a
good cheesecake can't be far behind.
First of all, you're certain to get that
hideous crack right in the middle.
Second, you're going to flub up the
whole consistency thing. The outside
edges are going to be burned and the
middle will look like a blubbering mess
of ugly, white goo.
Third, it's going to be really lumpy
So this Shavuot, when it's traditional
to eat cheesecake, your best bet is just to
head to the store, right?
Mimi Markofsky is here to assure you
that you can make your cheesecake and
serve it, too. In fact, it can be easy as pie.
"A lot of people find the idea of mak-
ing cheesecake daunting:' she says. "But
if you know what to do, you'll be fine."
Markofsky, of Elite Kosher Catering in
West Bloomfield, advises all chefs to
begin with a simple step: thoroughly
read the recipe.
It may sound silly, she says, but too
many people think, "I know how to
cook!" and they start out only to discov-
er they were supposed to mix the eggs
with the cream cheese and not the sugar.
And that one, seemingly inconsequen-
tial change can make a huge difference
in the outcome of the dish.
The next step is to be certain your
ingredients are all at room temperature
before you start. This is especially true
May 13 . 2010
for cream cheese, which is much easier
to whip when it's not terribly cold. It
also makes the cream cheese a better
friend for sugar — another key ingre-
dient in cheesecake. When the slightly
warm cream cheese mixes with sugar,
the sugar breaks down so that you're not
left with a gritty texture in your cake.
"It's all about the combination of
molecules — it's a scientific thing:' says
Markofsky, who clearly understands the
process but realizes most people aren't
going to get the whole scientific angle.
(And yes – this MUST be done with a
mixer, though a hand-held mixer should
work just fine, Markofsky says.)
Another important step in the process is
to make certain you don't put all your eggs
in at one time: Slowly and carefully add
each egg; else you're sure to get lumps.
"One problem a lot of people have is
their cheesecakes crack when baking,"
Markofsky says. To avoid this, use a bain
marie, or water bath. Markofsky rec-
ommends leaving the cake in the bain
marie for 30 minutes covered with foil,
then uncovered for the rest of the rec-
ommended baking time.
"This allows the cheesecake to cook
from the inside out?' she explains.
Otherwise, all the moisture flows to
the center, in a concentrated spot, "and
you'll end up with Old Faithful right in
the middle?' (This explains the frequent
crack in the middle: the cheesecake
opens to let out the steam.)
Markofsky advises chefs never to fear
a bit of wiggle.
"If your cake has just a slight move-
ment, once it finishes cooking, set it up
on the counter:' she says. "It will be fine
because it will still continue to cook a
bit in the hot pan."
Mimi Markofsky: Don't be afraid of the cheese!
cup tortilla chips, finely crushed
2 tablespoons margarine, melted
31/2 pounds cream cheese, room
1 can green chiles, chopped
8 ounces sour cream
3 tablespoons taco seasoning mix
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup green onions, chopped
1/4 cup pitted black olives, sliced
Preheat oven to 325F. Combine
tortilla chips and melted margarine
and press onto the bottom of a 9"
springform pan. Bake for 15 minutes.
Remove from oven and set aside to
Beat the cream cheese until it is
smooth. Add eggs one at a time to
the cream cheese, blending well after
each addition. Blend in the green
chiles. Pour mixture into the prepared
crust and bake for 1 hour.
Combine the sour cream with the
taco seasoning mix. Spread the mix-
ture over the hot cheesecake and
return to the oven for 10 minutes.
Remove the pan from the oven and
let it cool slightly before removing the
outside ring of the pan. Refrigerate at
least 2 hours or overnight, if possible.
Garnish with tomatoes, green onions
and black olives.
- Mimi Markofsky, Elite Kosher Catering