Friday, July 3, 2020 -
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The perfect cheesecake is kosher for Passover

I seem to have landed on the perfect cheesecake recipe. Perfectly smooth, with nary even a hint of a crack on its glossy top. The catch? It’s a kosher-for-Passover recipe.

During Passover I try to stay away from matzah meal and other replacement ingredients. That means that dessert pretty much comes down to fresh fruit, because most kosher-for-Passover cakes contain matzah meal or potato starch. The only cake I’ve ever regularly made is David Lebovitz’s Chocolate Idiot Cake, which I most highly recommend. It’s so luscious it usually ends up lasting me the whole holiday.

This year I decided to try another ‘pure,’ i.e. substitute-free, cake — a Passover Lemon Cheesecake. Imagine my surprise when I removed from my oven the perfect cheesecake. Paysach, shmaysach. This was going to be integrated quickly into my Shavuot repertoire! Not only was the texture perfect, the flavor was that of a classic New York cheesecake. Cream cheese, sugar with just a hint of lemon and vanilla. I baked it crustless (you’ll notice the recipe for the crust does call for matzah meal), but I can imagine the almond crust provides a nice balance. The best part of it all was how uncomplicated the whole thing was. No leaving it in the oven with the door closed. No propping up open the oven door for 2 hours. No water bath — although I did use one.

I admit, I’m curious to see if the cake will turn out as perfectly this time around. Perhaps it was a Pesach miracle?  If you try this recipe, let me know how yours turns out.

Passover Lemon Cheesecake

Prep Time 30 minutes


For crust

  • 3/4 C sliced blanched almonds, toasted and cooled
  • 2/3 C sugar
  • 2/3 C matzo cake meal
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 8 TB unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly

For filling

  • 3 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tsp grated lemon zest
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract


Make crust:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F with rack in middle.
  2. 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 springform 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:

  1. Reduce oven temperature to 300°F.
  2. 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.
  3. Put springform pan in a shallow baking pan and pour filling into cooled crust. Bake until filling is set 1 1/2 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.

Recipe Notes

I placed a roasting pan with boiling water filled up about halfway on the rack below the cheesecake during the baking.

Shana Goldberg

IJN Assistant Publisher |

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