Thursday, August 30, 2012

From disaster to Oreo cheesecake

Forgive me readers, for I have sinned. If you haven't already noticed, this little corner of the Internet is called "Baking and Mistaking." And while I've been sharing my baking, I haven't been sharing my mistaking. But I would never want you to think it isn't happening. So here's the story of how I turned a total failure at trying to make one thing in to a major success at another. And got cheesecake in the end. So basically a win-win. 

Here in Israel, not every ingredient is quite the same as I'm used to from the US. As I've pointed out, there are no fresh blueberries here, just dried and frozen. No active dry yeast, just instant dry yeast (which, in all honesty, is better), no skim milk, just 1% or 3% and when it comes to cream cheese, well, good luck. 
If you want cream cheese, you have a few options - imported (read: expensive) Philadelphia, which is 30%, Israeli-made 5% cream cheese or Israel-made, still expensive, 30% stuff in little tubs. When I made cheesecake a few months ago, I opted for a 50/50 mix of the 30% and 5%, and got at least seven marriage proposals out of it. Last week, I was gathering ingredients to make cream cheese frosting for a batch of cupcakes, and, because I fairly often don't think things through, I figured I would make the same 50/50 mix. Of course, as you can already see this going, when it comes to frosting, you really need the body and thickness of the 30% cheese, and adding anything else gives you a basically watery mess. 
Faced with said mess, I knew I wasn't going to be able to turn it back into frosting. But, looking at what I had - cream cheese, sugar, vanilla and a little butter - I realized that I could easily turn it into cheesecake. So with the addition of a couple eggs, plus grabbing some Oreo cookies for a quick and cute base for mini cheesecakes, I was in business. And those coworkers that got my disaster turned delicacy? Thrilled. 

Recipe: Makes about 16-18 cupcake-sized cheesecakes
500g (about 2 cups or 17.5 ounces) cream cheese
3 cups powdered or icing sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 eggs
16-18 Oreo or chocolate sandwich cookies  
mini chocolate chips (optional)

Bring the cream cheese to room temperature. Beat it with a mixer until loosened, then beat the sugar and vanilla in to the cheese until smooth. 
Add the eggs and beat until all incorporated. 
Place 16-18 paper muffin liners in a muffin tin, and put one sandwich cookie in the bottom of each. Fill the liners up with the cheese mixture about 7/8 of the way. 
Bake on 350 F for about 20 minutes, until the centers are almost set. Chill in the fridge until completely cold. Top with mini chocolate chips if desired.


  1. Nice recipe. It reminds me of when I moved back to the US from Israel and made the same cheesecake recipe (from the Moosewood cookbook) but it came out worse in the US., I finally figured out in Israel I was using bricks of cheese (the cellophane wrapped ones they make just for chanukah and shavuos) that looked like 8 ounces to me but were measured in grams. In the us I finally realized I was short about 4 ounces of cheese compared to the Israeli bricks. Once I upped the measurement my cheesecake started turning out better.

  2. It's always so nice to be able to turn a kitchen disaster into a story with a happy ending.

    The irony here is great, by the way -- in a post about learning how to handle the differences between American and Israeli products, you end up with a dessert that uses Oreo cookies!

  3. Hey Tali -
    You're right, Oreos are definitely not Israeli! But they are pretty widely available here, not too expensive, and, there are other sandwich cookies that you could use as well.

  4. I would just like to point out that while there is a spoon in front of the cupcake, its clear that those are teeth marks in the cake!!!
    your welcome for pointing that out. :P

  5. Sorry, those are not bite marks, just the result of using a really tiny spoon! Here is an example of teeth marks!