By Jean Graubart
Director, Leo & Anna Smilow Center for Jewish Living and Learning
Not a month has gone by without a Jewish holiday celebration and it is lovely to look at the calendar and see the dates to remind us of our history and traditions.
Shavuot, the Festival of Weeks is on May 26-May 28, the culmination of the SEVEN weeks since Passover. Mysticism makes everything a little more spiritual and since the Kabbalists consider the number SEVEN very powerful (a reminder of the week of creation), we feel the impact of the mystics .
As a mother who gave each of her children two names, I like that Shavuot also has a second name, Festival of First Fruits, Yom Ha-Bikkurim. This was the time that the first grain and fruit crops were harvested.
Just as Pesach brings us to spring, Shavuot ushers in the summer season. But before it gets too hot and in honor of the holiday when we celebrate the giving of the Ten Commandments, the laws given to Moses on Mount Sinai, enjoy this unusual cheesecake in commemoration of the holiday. It is customary to eat dairy foods as the Torah is traditionally compared to milk and honey, with their ability to nourish and to sweeten our lives.
3 cups granola
1 tablespoon brown sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger (dried)
1 stick butter melted
2 pounds cream cheese
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons honey
2/3 cup whipping cream
1 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
Strawberries or other berries to top off
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease a 9 inch springform pan or a deep dish pie pan.
Grind granola in a processor and put in bowl.
Add sugar, cinnamon, ground ginger and melted butter
Mix and press into the bottom of pan and halfway up the side.
Beat the cream cheese, vanilla, sugar and honey until smooth and blended.
Add eggs one at a time beating lightly after each one.
Put in cream and mix briefly.
Pour batter into chilled crust and smooth top.
Bake for an hour, test with toothpick which should come out clean but a little wet.
The center will sink a little and the cake will shrink some from the sides of the pan.
Turn off oven and let cake sit in oven for 20 minutes.
Remove and cool at room temperature.
Set oven to 300 degrees.
In small bowl, mix sour cream and sugar very well.
Pour over the cake and smooth.
Bake 5 minutes.
Remove from oven and cool completely.
Sprinkle with crystallized ginger and chill until firm.
Cover with plastic wrap when firm and chill at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.
Remove and enjoy!
Serving suggestion: Top with berries or serve them on the side.
This recipe will delight your friends and family and hopefully sweeten your celebration.
Shavuot is such a special time that I remember my grandmother picked the holiday for her birthday, having no record of her birth date in Turkey.
She said she wanted to be born when the Torah was born.