Hi! It’s been a little while. I’m back to share this cheesecake recipe with you in honor of Shavuot, which starts on Thursday evening.
Shavuot might be one of my favorite holidays. Since I was young, my cousins and I have gone upstate to celebrate the Chag together. We make a beautiful menu full of dairy, seasonal dishes, and just spend a lovely, sunny few days together. Think: no phones, lots of lasagna, late afternoon ice cream hangs on the porch. It’s pretty ideal, I know. We’re going up again this year, and my aunt and I have already been texting each other about menu ideas for… weeks.
I always make a cheesecake. It’s one of my favorite desserts and I rarely make it besides for on Shavuot, so it’s kind of the one time of year that I get to have fun with it. This cheesecake is actually the one I made for last year’s trip upstate- it was wildly popular and everyone asked for the recipe. I’m sorry I didn’t get to share it then, but I’m making up for it now!
This is a Basque cheesecake. A Basque cheesecake’s calling card is its intentionally burnt top and deeply creamy interior. It is truly my favorite kind of cheesecake, with deeply bronzed, almost firm edges that act like a crust, and a perfectly tangy combination of cream cheese and heavy cream.
My version swaps some of the cream cheese for labneh, a thick, Middle Eastern yogurt cheese, which keeps it light but tangy; I also add vanilla bean paste for flavor. This cheesecake bakes at a high temperature, which helps to caramelize the top while keeping the inside custardy- it might feel counterintuitive, but don’t be afraid of the heat here!
The apricot topping is a great one, and it couldn’t be easier to make. Fresh apricots poach in a bubbling honey and sesame mixture and are poured over the top of the cheesecake. If your apricots are perfectly ripe, it makes them even juicier; if they’re still on the early-in-the-season side, poaching them is a great way to bring out their sweet flavor.
I like adding salty roasted pistachios at the end to round it all out. It’s a tangy, creamy and luscious dessert that feels both lighter and more decadent than the average cheesecake. You’ll probably want to put this in permanent rotation, like me.
Chag sameach! Hope you enjoy some sweet time with family and friends.
Why I love this recipe: tangy with cream cheese and labneh, this one bowl Basque Cheesecake batter bakes into a perfectly bronzed, dramatic cheesecake. The apricot topping is sweet, tart and nutty, a great foil to the creamy dessert.
For the labneh basque cheesecake:
4 blocks (32. oz.) full-fat cream cheese, at room temperature
1½ cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
5 eggs, room temperature
1 cup labneh
2/3 cup heavy cream
¼ cup corn starch
½ tsp. fine sea salt
For the poached apricot topping:
1 lb. fresh apricots, halved and pitted
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup roasted sesame seeds
1/4 cup roasted, salted pistachios, chopped
- Preheat the oven to 450°F. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the cream cheese until soft and pliable. Add the sugar and vanilla bean paste and whisk until fully mixed.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well between each addition.
In a separate bowl, stir together the labneh and heavy cream. Add the corn starch and salt, whisk to combine, and then pour into the bowl with the cream cheese mixture. Beat until well combined, 3-4 minutes.
- Line a 9″ inch spring form pan with a piece of baking paper. Make sure it covers the base and comes up the sides of the pan. Lay a second sheet of baking paper over the first. This will help you lift the cheesecake out of the pan and ensures that no cheesecake batter leaks.
- Pour the cheesecake mixture into the lined spring form. Place in the middle of the oven and bake for 45–50 minutes until darkened, puffy and slightly domed. Pull the cheesecake out while it is still slightly jiggly in the middle. Allow to cool completely before placing in the fridge overnight.
- Make the apricot topping: combine the honey and water in a medium sized, heavy bottomed pot. Heat over a medium flame until beginning to simmer. Add the apricot halves to the liquid and poach in the lightly simmering liquid for 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat using a slotted spoon and set aside.
- Bring the remaining liquid to a boil, letting it thicken, reduce and turn syrupy, 3-4 minutes. Add the sesame seeds and pistachios to the liquid and continue boiling and reducing, another 3 minutes. Remove from flame.
- Place the poached apricots in the center of the cheesecake. Pour the reduced honey syrup with sesame and pistachio over the apricots. Let cool slightly. Serve.