As the holiday of Shavuot nears, the smell of cheesecake is in the air. Well, not just yet, but at least the recipes are already flying around the internet and the playground benches. We eat cheesecake on Shavuot because it is delicious. There is also a custom to eat dairy foods on Shavuot because we received the Torah on Shavuot, including the laws of kosher food. Before there were laws of what animals were kosher and how to slaughter them properly, it was safest to stick with dairy. In the Song of Songs(4:11), the Torah is also referred to as “honey and milk under your tongue.” Rav Kook explains that both milk and honey are foods that come from forbidden sources–honey from bees and milk processed in the animal’s body from blood, but they themselves are permissible to consume, symbolizing “fixing the world,” which the Torah also has the power to do, as does the Land of Israel, which is called the “Land of Milk and Honey.” (Pninei Halacha on Festivals)
This beautiful tart is sweetened with honey and filled with cheese. The fruit topping is also a nod to a different Shavuot theme. Shavuot is the holiday when bikkurim, the first fruits of the Seven Species of Israel were brought to the Temple in Jerusalem. This tart features fresh, seasonal fruit, but the fruit theme is still a reminder of the special fruit of bikkurim.
I enjoy rich, decadent cheesecakes, but traditional cheesecakes full of butter and cream don’t always feel as good in my stomach as they did on my tongue. This light, fruity treat is the perfect ending to a big holiday meal, when you really don’t want anything rich and heavy. My taste testers described it as “tangy,” “like lemon meringue pie,” and “reminiscent of key lime pie.” All good things. And it contains no butter, cream, or eggs.
The granola base can be made days in advance and frozen until the time of assembly. The filling should be made at least a few hours before assembly in order to give the Chia seeds time to work their gel magic. This tart takes more work than I usually put into a cake, but Shavuot is only once a year. If this looks delicious but daunting, contact me about ordering options.
Granola-Crust Cheesecake Fruit Tart Recipe
2 cups whole oats (not quick oats)
1 cup shredded coconut
1 cup ground almonds
2/3 cup honey
1/3 cup oil (preferably coconut oil)
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
500 grams (about 2 cups) soft white cheese (gvina levana– I prefer Ski)
1 tablespoon corn starch
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
zest of one lemon
1 tablespoon Chia seeds
3-4 pieces of assorted fresh fruit, sliced thin
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon water
1 teaspoon liquid sweetener (honey/maple syrup/apple juice concentrate/agave nectar)
- Line bottom of round standard size pie pan with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 180C/350F.
- Mix together crust ingredients and press into lined pie pan. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden. (See picture above.) Cool completely before adding cheese layer. This may be stored in a sealed bag in the freezer.
- Make the cheese filling: Sift together the cornstarch and powdered sugar and mix with a spoonful of the soft cheese. Add to the rest of the cheese. Add lemon zest and Chia seeds. Mix thoroughly and let sit for a few hours or overnight.
- Assemble: Spread the cheese filling evenly over the crust, in a circular motion, working from the inside out.
- Lay the fruit on top of the cheese mixture in a decorative pattern.
- Make a glaze with lemon juice, water and liquid sweetener. Brush over the top of the fruit to prevent browning.
- Keep chilled until ready to serve.