Saturday, May 23, 2009

Yes, Virginia, there IS cheesecake in Israel

A refrain popular among the new oleh crowd is: “How can I replicate my favorite cheesecake recipe using unfamiliar Israeli ingredients?”

However, the truth is that there are now several varieties of Israeli cream cheese. Moreover, one can splurge (both financially and calorically) and purchase the readily-available Philadelphia-brand cream cheese.

Yet, back when we made aliyah, there were fewer options.

But after several years of sampling cheesecakes (it was a rough job, but somebody had to do it), I finally put together a cheesecake recipe which suits the Shiputzim family’s collective palate.

I should note that the recipe for the filling comes from Our Shiputzim Military Expert Be-All-You-Can-Be’s wife; the topping is my mother’s recipe; and I got the idea for the crust from the Israel-Food list.

Say cheese… cake


  • 150 grams of chocolate sandwich cookies, crushed (We like the Hadar brand.)


  • 1 kilo of 5% gvinah levanah (literally, “white  cheese” –one could use 4 packages of cream cheese, softened, instead)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 TBSP vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs


  • 2 containers (1.5 cups) sour cream (i.e., shamenet chamutzah for the Hebraically-oriented amongst you)
  • 3 TBSP sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place cookie crumbs in buttered 9” (23 cm) spring-form pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool somewhat.

Next, prepare filling. Beat gvinah levanah, sugar, and vanilla until well-blended. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing slowly. Pour filling over crust and bake at 350 degrees for one hour or until the center is almost set. Let cool for 15 minutes.

Finally, mix all the topping ingredients together and pour over cake. Bake at 400 degrees for 7-10 minutes.

Refrigerate for at least four hours (or overnight) before serving.

Note: On the Israel-Food list, someone recently suggested that better results can be achieved by draining the gvinah levanah overnight. I’m considering using this idea; I’ll keep you posted.

!בתאבון וחג שמח



  1. I am scratching my head as to why you need to cook a cheesecake with no flour and three eggs for an hour. Posting mine soon bli neder--half the size but 7 minutes total in microwave.

  2. MiI - שבוע טוב and חודש טוב.

    That's a good question, but all I can say in response is: it works. (Not a very intelligent answer, I know, but...)

    Anyway, I look forward to your recipe!

  3. As one who "is in the know" I can tell you that a certain Israeli dairy company (no plugs here, but it starts with "t", ends with "a" and has a "nuv" in the middle) sells gevina l'afiya which is gevina levana with much less water so there is no need to drain the water and you get better results when baking with it.

  4. Be All You Can BeMay 24, 2009 at 1:03 PM

    Perhaps as her filling was being used as the definitive cheese cake, we can give her, her very own title when not being refernced in a family manner. Perhaps "Our Shiputzim Cheese Cake Filling Expert". I of course love to be referenced, but she is certainly worth more then I, and can stand or her own merits. :)

  5. Malke - Thanks for the heads-up. The head of the Our Shiputzim Purchasing and Requisitions Department reports that our local makolet even carries "gvinah l'afiyah".

    Be All You Can Be - Agreed. So, if it's acceptable to her, "Our Shiputzim Cheesecake Filling Expert" it is.

  6. Sounds yummy. I wonder whether I could use fromage blac (literally "white cheese too) to make cheese cake.

  7. Ilana-Davita - A quick Google search seems to suggest that גבינה לבנה (gvinah levanah) is actually the Israeli equivalent of - or at least a very, very close relative to - fromage blanc.


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