Vanilla Bean Cheesecake (for Passover)

passover cheesecakeI may have gone slightly overboard with the Passover desserts this year. There just seemed like so many interesting options, and I had to try them all. In addition to our toffee chocolate matzoh and truffles on tomorrow night’s seder table, there will be this cheesecake, a leaven-free treat of vanilla bean and almond goodness.

The crust for this lovely dessert is a concoction of almonds, matzoh cake meal, sugar, and melted butter, and the filling is a standard cream cheese and sugar mixture that includes the seeds of two vanilla beans, as well as a dash of almond extract. Garnish-wise, you could pair many foods with this cheesecake; strawberries and raspberries come to mind, as does good old-fashioned whipped cream, or perhaps chocolate curls.

I’m so excited about this cheesecake, I may have to break my sugar fast tomorrow night. Passover is about freedom, after all.


  • 3/4 cup chopped blanched almonds, toasted and cooled
  • 2/3 cup matzoh cake meal
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 3 8-ounce packages cream cheese
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • seeds scraped from 2 vanilla beans
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine almonds, matzoh cake meal, sugar, and salt. Pulse until finely ground, then transfer to a medium bowl and drizzle in butter, mixing with a spoon to incorporate evenly. Mix with your hands to combine; you want a sandy texture.

Press the crust mixture into the bottom and 1 inch up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan and bake for 12-15 minutes, until one shade darker in color. Cool completely on a wire rack.

In a mixing bowl, combine cream cheese and sugar and beat for 2 minutes on medium speed to combine, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Add vanilla seeds and almond extract and beat until well combined, about 1-2 minutes more.

Place springform pan in a shallow baking dish and pour filling into crust. Bake for 45-50 minutes, until filling is set 1 1/2 inches from the edge but still wobbly in the middle.

Remove from oven and baking dish; set springform pan on a cooling rack and immediately run a knife around the edge of the crust, then remove the side of the pan and allow cheesecake to cool completely. Store in the refrigerator.



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