The perfect Passover dessert How about a creamy cheesecake

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A common dilemma come Passover time is what to have for dessert. The eliminaton of chametz often makes it difficult to find a dessert that everyone loves.

moskowitzI had the pleasure of reviewing Penny Wantuck Eisenberg’s new cookbook CD “Amazing Passover Desserts” and found some fabulous options, particularly the chocolate cheesecake below.

Cheesecake is a natural dessert pick for Pesach, since its very essence contains no chametz. The crust Eisenberg suggests is delicious (I used Manischewitz Rocky Road cookies for it), but I also had equally delicious success with toasted almonds, which I ground and mixed with the sugar and melted butter. For a lower-carbohydrate cheesecake, use Splenda instead of the sugar and nuts instead of cookies.


Chocolate Cheesecake

Serves 6-8

11⁄3 cups crushed kosher-for-Passover cookies

sugar to taste

4 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted

9 oz. semisweet Passover chocolate, chopped

40 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature

13⁄4 cups sugar

1⁄4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1⁄4 cup heavy cream

4 large eggs

Note: This recipe must be made one day ahead.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Place the oven rack in the bottom third of the oven. Grease a 9- or 10-inch springform pan. Have ready a pan larger than the springform, to be used for a water bath. Boil water for the water bath.

For the crust, add a Tbs. or two of sugar to the cookie crumbs, only if they aren’t sweet enough for your taste. Add the butter to the crumbs, a little at a time, stirring with a fork to moisten the crumbs. Add just enough butter for the crumbs to hold together when you press them with your fingers (the exact amount will depend on the number of cookies used). Press the crumbs into the bottom of the springform pan. Bake for 10-12 minutes until the crust is just starting to color.

Let the crust cool until the pan can be handled. Wrap the outside of the pan with a double layer of aluminum foil, scrunching up the foil at the top.

For the filling: Place the chopped chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat on medium power (5), uncovered, for 1 minute. Stir, and then heat on medium in 30-second increments, stirring between each heating, until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Cool chocolate to about 100 degrees — just a little warmer than your skin and pourable.

Place the cream cheese in a mixer bowl. Beat on low to medium speed until smooth. Add sugar, cocoa powder and cream and beat on low to medium until smooth, scraping down the bowl periodically. Whisk the eggs in a small bowl. Beat them, approximately 1 at a time, into the cream cheese mixture, scraping the bowl occasionally.

Reheat the chocolate if necessary. Add a few cups of the filling into the chocolate and stir until blended. Add this back into the rest of the batter and stir all together. Pour the filling over the crust. Shake the pan gently, side to side, to level it. Place the springform into the larger pan. Pour about 2 inches of simmering water into the larger pan. Be very careful not to splash water into the cheesecake or the crust will be soggy.

Bake for 60-80 minutes depending on the size of the pan you are using and your oven. The cheesecake should be set and will have just lost its shine (most cheesecake is baked until the center still shakes, but this one needs more or it will be mousse-like instead cheesecake-y). Take the cheesecake out of the water bath and set it on a rack. Remove the foil form the outside of the pan and let the cheesecake cool until barely warm, but not more than 1 hour. Cover and refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight.

Before serving, mop up any moisture that as accumulated on top of the cake. Cut around the perimeter of the cheesecake and then remove the springform ring. Chocolate cheesecake can be garnished with piped cream cheese frosting, whipped cream, or chocolate, caramel or crème anglaise sauce.

Gabi Moskowitz is the clergy assistant at Congregation Sherith Israel in San Francisco, a caterer and cooking teacher. Follow her adventures in and out of the kitchen in her blog,

Gabi Moskowitz
Gabi Moskowitz

Gabi Moskowitz is the co-author of “Hot Mess Kitchen” and the co-producer of “Young & Hungry,” a Freeform comedy currently in its fifth season. She lives in San Francisco with her husband, Evan. She can be reached at