Mini cheesecakes with rhubarb and strawberries 
(Photo/Faith Kramer)
Mini cheesecakes with rhubarb and strawberries (Photo/Faith Kramer)

Strawberry rhubarb cheesecake for a sweet (and slightly tart) Shavuot

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Cheesecakes are traditional for Shavuot (from sunset June 4 to nightfall June 6) because of the holiday’s many associations with dairy foods. Here I’ve combined mini cheesecakes with rhubarb and strawberries as a delicious way to celebrate the giving of the Torah.

The fruits combine to make a sweet-tart topping for the cheesecakes, the tartness setting off the richness of the cheesecake. For a sweeter topping, add sugar to taste while cooking the fruit.

The cheesecakes and topping can be made ahead and the desserts assembled just before serving.

Mini Cheesecakes with Rhubarb and Strawberries

Makes 12

  • 6 (3¼ oz.) whole graham crackers
  • 6 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup plus 2 Tbs. sugar
  • 24 oz. brick-style cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ½ cup plus ¼ cup sour cream
  • Rhubarb and Strawberry Topping (see below)
  • 12 thin slices of strawberry
  • Chopped mint leaves, optional

Have ready 1 recipe of topping (see below) at room temperature. Heat oven to 375 degrees.

Line a 12-hole cupcake or muffin tin with liners (or set 12 foil cupcake liners on a sturdy baking sheet). Put graham crackers in food processor and turn into fine crumbs (well crushed but not powdery). Or put cookies in sealed plastic bag and crush with rolling pin. Place in medium bowl. Stir in melted butter and 2 Tbs. sugar. Press crumbs into bottom of the cupcake liners.

Cut the cream cheese into 1-inch chunks. In a large bowl, combine 1 cup sugar, eggs, vanilla, lemon juice, and salt. Beat with an electric hand or a stand mixer on medium-high until light and lemony in color (2 minutes). Add cream cheese chunks in batches, beating on medium-high until incorporated before adding the next batch. Once all the cream cheese is incorporated, add ½ cup sour cream. Beat again on medium-high until mixture is very smooth (3-4 minutes). Divide cheesecake batter between the 12 liners.

Top each cheesecake with ½ Tbs. Rhubarb and Strawberry Topping. Use a dinner knife to swirl the topping through the batter. Place cheesecakes in oven. Bake 20-25 minutes until the centers of the cheesecakes are a bit loose and jiggly and the tops are puffed up. They will still be pale. (Timing varies.) Turn off oven, open oven door, and leave cheesecakes inside for 30 minutes. Transfer to wire rack until completely cool.

Refrigerate 4 hours or overnight. (Can be made up to 4 days in advance and kept refrigerated and several weeks if frozen. If freezing, defrost in refrigerator before serving.) Serve chilled (or remove from refrigerator 20 minutes before serving). Remove liners if desired. The top of each cheesecake will have fallen, making an indent. Fill each indent with 1 tsp. Rhubarb and Strawberry Topping and 1 tsp. sour cream. Add a strawberry slice. Garnish with mint.

Rhubarb and Strawberry Topping

  • 3½ cups chopped fresh rhubarb or 12 oz. frozen, chopped rhubarb (do not defrost)
  • 2 Tbs. water or as needed
  • 2 cups chopped fresh strawberries
  • ½ tsp. vanilla

Place rhubarb in medium saucepan over medium heat with water (do not use water if frozen). Cover. Cook until very soft, stirring often, adding just enough water if needed so rhubarb does not stick to the pan or burn. Stir in strawberries and vanilla. Continue to cook, covered, until the strawberries are just soft. Remove cover. Stir. Let any liquid evaporate.

Remove from heat and let cool a few minutes. Purée with a hand or regular blender. Cool completely before using in recipe. (Can be made up to 3 days ahead and kept refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before using.) Use any extra topping on ice cream or other desserts.

Faith Kramer
Faith Kramer

Faith Kramer is a Bay Area food writer and the author of “52 Shabbats: Friday Night Dinners Inspired by a Global Jewish Kitchen.” Her website is Contact her at [email protected].