Wednesday, May 26, 2010
It started the day after Passover. The phone began to ring with friends and relatives calling me from the supermarket. The conversation went something like this, "They have cans of macaroons on sale for just 99 cents, do you want me to get you a few?" At first I answered with an enthusiastic "Yes!", as few gluten free goodies are that low in price. Those little flourless coconut gems that are the mainstay of snacking during Passover are like week old rotting fish as soon as the holiday is over. Who wants them when you can have a Chips Ahoy? Except of course those who eat gluten-free all year.
Then, I began getting a can or two left on my doorsteps in plastic grocery bags. I had to put a stop to this. I had also purchased a cart load of various Passover cookies and cakes myself. I wasn't sure anymore of the utility of the macaroon throughout the year. What could I do with them I wracked my brain. Other than using the cans as door stops, I decided the crumbly macaroons might make a quick and easy pie crust. I took it a step further with the next Jewish holiday on my mind, and decided to use them as a crust for a Shavuos cheesecake in lieu of the traditional graham cracker crumb crust. Being cheaper than a box of gluten-free cookies, I decided this was not only a tasty choice, but an economical one as well.
It is customary to make a bevy of dairy dishes for the spring holiday of Shavuos. Since Rosie doesn't eat dairy, and most of the dishes are also made with eggs (think blintzes and quiches), I limit myself to a few dairy desserts (and provide non-dairy options for Rosie). Cheesecake is a must have though. And, being a New Yorker, I like a dense yet creamy version of this delicacy. Too much air and fluff and the cake no longer holds my interest. Farmer cheese, cottage cheese and any other cheese than brick style cream cheese (like Philadelphia brand) have no place in my cake. I decided to complement the tropical nuttiness of the coconut in the macaroon crust with the citrusy and exotic flavors of lemon and ginger for this cheesecake. The result hit just the right note. Lillie liked the crust best. I enjoyed the creamy filling.
You can leave this cheesecake bare, or top with a can of cherry or blueberry pie filling for a traditional look. If fresh berries are in season, they make a beautiful garnish. Comstock pie fillings are gluten free according to the company. It may seem "fussy" to add one egg at a time to the mixture as directed below, but it is essential for achieving the proper texture of this cheesecake.
Ginger-Lemon Cheesecake with Macaroon Crust
1-11-ounce can coconut macaroons, any flavor
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
20-ounces brick style cream cheese
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
Pre-heat oven to 375F degrees. Spray an 8 or 9-inch spring form pan with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.
Place the macaroons In a medium sized mixing bowl. Using your fingers, crumble the macaroons until they reach a crumb-like consistency. Add the melted butter and stir to combine. With your fingers, press macaroon mixture into bottoms and partially up sides of spring form pan, set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, cream together cream cheese and sugar until smooth using a handheld or stand mixer on medium speed. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until combined. Add remaining ingredients, stirring on low to combine.
Pour cream cheese mixture into crust. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until cake appears set. Do not let top brown too much. Cool for 30 minutes on a metal rack. Cover and refrigerate for 8 hours to overnight before serving.
To serve: Unmold from spring form pan and place on serving platter. Serve plain or topped with cherry or blueberry pie filling or whipped cream and fresh berries.