Pitsuchim is the collective name for a variety of nuts and seeds consumed in front of the TV or during football matches. In this recipe they add a crunchy twist to another local favorite: the cheesecake traditionally served at the early summer festival of Shavuot.
Ingredients (for a 24 cm/9 inch diameter springform pan)
150 g (51/2 oz) white chocolate, chopped
150 g (51/2 oz, 21/4 cups) cornflakes, crushed
125 g (41/2 oz) peanut butter The Cake:
750 g (11/2 lbs) gvina levana (fresh soft white cheese − see explanation below)
200 ml (7 fl oz) sour cream
120 g (4 oz) confectioners’ sugar
14 g (1 sachet, 1/2 oz) gelatin diluted in 1/3 cup boiling water
250 ml (9 fl oz, 1 cup) whipping cream The Nut and Honey Topping:
25 g (1 oz) butter
1 heaping tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup cashew nuts
1/2 cup pine nuts (or blanched peanuts)
1/2 cup blanched halved almonds
Prepare the base: Melt the chocolate in a microwave oven or on a bain-marie (double boiler). Add cornflakes and peanut butter and mix thoroughly. Press firmly onto the bottom of the baking pan lined with baking paper. Put in the freezer.
Prepare the cake: Combine cheese, sour cream, sugar and gelatin and mix thoroughly.
Beat the whipping cream and fold into the cheese mixture. Pour over the base, cover with cling film and refrigerate for 24 hours.
Prepare the topping: Melt the butter with honey and sugar in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the cashew nuts and stir-fry for 1-2 minutes. Add the pine nuts and almonds and stir-fry for 2 more minutes until golden. Remove from the stove and flatten the nuts on a sheet of baking paper. Cool completely and break into small pieces. Just before serving, remove the cake from the fridge and sprinkle with the nut mixture.
Gvina Levana Literally “white cheese”, this soft, fresh, creamy cheese made from cow’s milk is similar to German quark. It was brought to Palestine by German Templer settlers at the beginning of the 20th Century. In today’s Israel it is one of the most popular breakfast foods and is widely used for baking. Gvina levana is responsible for the exceptionally light texture and fresh taste of local cheesecakes. Outside Israel, it is sold in Kosher stores carrying fresh Israeli products. If unavailable, substitute with 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) cream cheese mixed with 250 ml (9 fl oz) sour cream. The cake will be creamier and richer, but equally delicious.