Lishansky’s Famous Halvah Cheesecake

This recipe was created by Ya’acov Lishansky, a veteran cookbook author and the first man to win first prize in Israel’s “Queen of the Kitchen” cooking contest. The recipe is featured in Phyllis and Miriyam Glazer’s The Essential Book of Jewish Festival Cooking: 200 Seasonal Holiday Recipes & Their Traditions.

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Ingredients

Crust

  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
  • ¼ cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Cold water

Filling

  • 2½ pounds cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1¼ cups sugar
  • 1 cup mashed vanilla halvah
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 6 eggs
  • ¼ cup heavy cream

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Prepare a 9- or 10-inch springform pan by cutting a circle of parchment paper to line the bottom (the 9-inch pan will result in a higher cake). Affix to the bottom with a little butter or non-stick cooking spray. Cut a 3-inch-wide strip of parchment paper and affix to the sides of the pan.
  2. Mix flour and sugar in a medium bowl. Beat egg yolk, lemon zest, melted butter, and vanilla together with a fork. Make a well in the flour mixture and pour in the liquids, then stir the mixture with a fork, adding just enough cold water to form a ball.
  3. Transfer to a lightly floured surface and roll out to a 1/8-inch thickness to fit the bottom and side of the prepared pan. (The dough does not have to come all the way up the sides.) Prick the bottom and sides with a fork, or add pie weights or dry beans placed on a circle of parchment paper and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove and let cool.
  4. Increase oven temperature to 500ºF. In the bowl of a standing electric mixer, beat the cream cheese, sugar, halvah, flour, and vanilla together just until smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, blending lightly after each addition, and pour in the cream. Do not overbeat or the cake will crack in the center while baking. Pour the filling into the baked crust.
  5. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes. Turn heat down to 200ºF and bake 60 to 90 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean and only slightly moist.
  6. Let stand in the oven with the oven door partially open for 1 hour. Remove and cool completely; chill until firm. Cover with plastic wrap after the top has firmed, and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight. Serves 12 to 14.