I worked very hard to develop a parve cheesecake for the book and after many tries, used this recipe, my favorite dairy cheesecake, as the model. I make this every Shavuot.
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
7 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons sugar
2 pounds cream cheese (not whipped), at room temperature
1 ¼ cups sugar
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
½ cup sour cream
1 ½ tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
10 strawberries, trimmed and sliced
Preheat oven to 325°F. Place 6 tablespoons of the butter in a microwave safe bowl and melt. You will need a 9 – 10 inch springform pan. Cover the top of the pan bottom with aluminum foil, and then wrap the foil under the bottom. Attach the pan sides to the bottom and lock and then unwrap the foil and wrap up around the sides of the pan. Take the other tablespoon of butter and rub around the bottom and sides of the pan. Place the pan into a large roasting pan with sides higher than 2 inches.
Place the melted butter into a small bowl and add the graham cracker crumbs and the 2 tablespoons of sugar. Mix to combine. Spoon into the prepared pan and press to cover the bottom and a little up the sides of the pan. Set aside.
Place the cream cheese into the bowl of a stand mixer or blender and whisk or mix until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, and scrape down the bowl each time to make sure all the cream cheese and eggs are being mixed in and the mixture looks creamy. Add the 1 ¼ cups sugar, lemon zest and vanilla and mix until everything is combined. Pour the batter on top of the graham crackers in the pan.
Place the roasting pan and cake on the middle rack of the oven and pour boiling water into the roasting pan, around the cheesecake pan, until the water reaches one-third to half way up the sides of the pan.
Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes. Turn off the oven and prop the oven door open with a wooden spoon. Leave the cake in the oven for an hour. Remove the cake from the roasting pan and let cool on a rack until the cake is completely cooled. Place in the fridge 5 hours or overnight.
To serve, combine the sour cream, confectioner’s sugar and vanilla in a small bowl. Spoon the mixture on the top of the cake and spread to form a circle almost as large as the cake. Decorate the top with strawberry slices.