Last night, my friend Joan, asked me to suggest a Passover recipe. Here is an idea – Lemon Cheese Cake, which uses almonds and matzo cake meal to make a wonderfully textured crust for this refreshing, citrusy cheesecake. After Passover, instead of pulling out the graham crackers again, experiment with other cookie crusts such as one made with shortbread. By the way, passover this year is on Monday, April 18, 2011.
Passover Lemon Cheesecake
Serves 8 to 10
3/4 cup sliced blanched almonds, toasted and cooled
2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup matzo cake meal
1/4 tsp salt
8 Tbs unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
3 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs
2 tsp grated lemon zest
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350F with rack in middle.
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 onto bottom and 1 inch up side of spring-form pan. Bake until crust is firm and a shade darker, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool crust completely in pan on a rack.
Make filling and bake cheesecake:
Reduce oven temperature to 300°F.
Beat together cream cheese and sugar in a bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Reduce speed to low and add eggs 1 at a time, mixing until incorporated. Mix in zest and vanilla.
Put spring-form pan in a shallow baking pan and pour filling into cooled crust. Bake until filling is set 1½ inches from edge but center is wobbly, 45 to 50 minutes (filling will continue to set as it cools). Transfer cake in pan to a rack and immediately run a knife around edge, then remove side of pan. Cool completely, 2 to 3 hours.
Cheesecake can be made 2 days ahead and chilled, loosely covered.