I know, everyone kind of freaks out about cheesecake. I’m no exception. I’ve been making a really delicious cheesecake for years. The steps are perfect and everything happens almost automatically, until one day I had the bizarre idea of mixing some za’atar into the buttery biscuit base. I tried it and that’s when my experimental mood really got going.
Cheesecake with Za’atar
Speaking of freaking out: I love contrasts in food! Everyone probably knows salted caramel and I’m really into it. So why shouldn’t za’atar work as well? Let’s recall the ingredients of za’atar. It’s mostly thyme. Then there’s sesame seeds, sumac and a pinch of salt. Mixed with butter and crumbled butter biscuits, it makes an absolutely heavenly base for a really delicious cheesecake.
It’s kind of super weird when you take a piece and first you have the very familiar taste of cheesecake in your mouth and then the other flavours slowly make themselves known. First the cheesecake, then the thyme with the sesame seeds, and at the very end, a subtle hint of salt. Perfect!
Sumac and berries
Okay, so we have the base. But you can also garnish cheesecake so beautifully with all kinds of wonderful things. How about something fruity to go with the sweet cake? A berry compote in itself brings a super fruity note and a fresh acidity. But boost it with some sumac and rose water. It’s a real party in the mouth. In combination with chopped pistachios and of course the delicious cheesecake, there’s really only one thing left to do: Happy freaking out!
P.S.: If you ever have guests over who are not very keen on experimenting – the cheesecake actually looks quite harmless from the outside 😛
Recipe for Cheesecake With Za’atar Pastry and Sumac Berries
- 26 cm springform pan
For the Za'atar Base
- 200 g Butter biscuits
- 100 g Butter
- 3 tsp Za'atar
For the cream cheese mixture
- 600 g Cream cheese
- 200 g Low-fat quark
- 150 ml Cream
- 200 g Sugar
- 1 Egg
- 3 Tbsp Cornstarch
- 2 Tbsp Lemon juice
- 1 tsp Rose water
For the sumac berries
- 300 g Berries (e.g. raspberries & blueberries)
- 3 Tbsp Sugar
- 1 tsp Rose water
- 1 Tbsp Sumac
- 10 g Chopped pistachios
- Preheat the oven to 180 °C / 356 °F.
- Crush the butter biscuits properly. Please do not pulverise completely.
- Melt the butter.
- Mix crumbly biscuits with za'atar and butter and place in a springform pan lined with baking paper, spreading with your hands and pressing down a little.
- Bake the base in the oven for approx. 10 minutes.
Cream cheese mixture
- Mix all the ingredients together. Please do not beat, as this will cause air to rise. The cake would then rise and collapse at the end. Mix everything slowly to a creamy mixture.
- Pour the cream cheese mixture onto the biscuit base and carefully smooth it out.
- Bake the cheesecake for approx. 40 – 45 minutes at 180 °C / 356 °F in a preheated oven. Then allow to cool completely.
- Combine berries (defrosted if frozen) with sugar in a saucepan and bring to the boil briefly, then simmer over medium heat for about 5 minutes.
- Add the sumac and rose water and mix well.
- Serve the sumac berries with the cheesecake or spread them directly on top. Garnish with chopped pistachios if desired.
How about Shaabiyat?