The best, easiest cheesecake. Step-by-step recipe with photos.

lemon cheesecake with strawberries, Marrakesh, Morocco

It’s recipe time!  When I was growing up, my mother had Francis Moore Lappe’s book Diet for a Small Planet.  It’s a book about moving towards a diet that’s both nutritious and sustainable for the whole planet.  We learned a lot about how to combine vegetarian foods to get complete proteins.  One of my favorite recipes in that book was/is Ricotta Cheesecake.  My mother made a lot of nutritious desserts, but for me, cheesecake was the ultimate.  It’s so delicious, smooth and creamy and lemony.  And hey, if this is what it takes to save the planet, then so be it!

And I’m keeping up the tradition in my own family, although my kids are still fairly suspicious of the oxymoron “cheese cake”.  Chocolate cake is much more natural collocation.  I’ve made cheesecake many times for my Moroccan friends, and it’s been very well-received indeed.  I’d like to get at least some credit for this important cross-cultural contribution.  In fact, this recipe is mostly for those living in Morocco, as you’ll see from the ingredient list.

The ingredients. Now if you live in Morocco, you’ll know exactly what each of these things are.  My secret about cheesecake is that I never make it the same way twice.  I throw in a combination of whatever I have in hand.  These ingredients are enough to make a large sized cake, enough for 24 people.  I made it recently for a potluck at work, and managed to photograph all the stages of the making.  I didn’t even get that much cheesecake filling on my camera.

Ingredients for Cheesecake:

Crust:

4 packets Sable biscuits

100g of butter

Filling:

24 kiri (about 12 ounces of cream cheese)

1 can Nestle sweetened condensed milk

4 perly yogurts

4-6 eggs

1 lemon, zested and juiced

Garnish:

Strawberries/a little sugar

cheesecake ingredients from the hanut, Marrakesh Morocco

Here’s the thing about the ingredients, you can make infinite substitutions.  There’s no perfect recipe.  If you don’t have Nestle for example, just use about a cup of sugar.  If Kiri is too fattening, you can use ricotta or white cheese (jben).  Perly is also not necessary, you can use any plain yogurt.  I chose a lemon flavor here, but you can put in vanilla instead.  The eggs can also be increased, I used 4 here, but I think the original recipe has more than that.  So there is a lot of choice in the matter of ingredients.  As they say in Morocco, 3aynek meezanek (measure with your eyes).   And of course taste it and adjust the flavor to your liking.

Method:

1-Pulse the biscuits in a food processor:

making cheesecake crust

2-Melt the butter and add it to the biscuits.  Mix again:

pulverizing the cookies for cheesecake crust

3-Pour the crumbs into a glass pan and pat them down with something flat.  Bake for 10 minutes:

pat down the crust

4-While the crust is baking, prepare the filling.

Pour ALL the ingredients into the food processor: kiri, perly, eggs, lemon juice and zest, and the can of nestle.  You can taste it now to see if it’s sweet or lemony enough.  In this recipe I actually added another half a can of nestle.  The filling will be very liquid:

5-Remove the crust from the oven after 10 minutes.  Don’t burn it!  Pour the filling in.  It should look like this:

cheesecake for 24

6-Bake on VERY low heat for about 45 minutes to an hour.  It should feel firm and set.

Prepare the strawberry garnish: slice the strawberries, add some sugar, and set them in the fridge to chill and become syrupy.

7-Remove the cheesecake from the oven and allow it to cool.

Once it’s cool, it needs to be chilled in the fridge.  It’s best to make it about 4 hours in advance or even overnight.  The longer it sits before eating, the better it tastes.  (Don’t do what I did and serve it lukewarm.  That’s not cool, literally).

Enjoy it if you manage to get a slice.  It goes fast!

19 thoughts on “The best, easiest cheesecake. Step-by-step recipe with photos.

  1. Thanks for the locally sourced ingredients, it’s always difficult to adapt recipes… The only thing, with me half the ingredients won’t make it to the oven I think ^^

  2. Meriem says:

    I’ll never forget the day I learned the truth about cheesecake. I was well into my twenties. See our mom had us believing that cheesecake is SUPPOSED to be made with jben or ricotta, and that it was NORMAL for it to be a little grainy. It was a shock to realize that the real thing is made with actual cream cheese, and that it looks, feels and tastes completely different from what we grew up believing cheesecake was.
    Once you’ve had the real thing, there’s no going back to jben. However, because of the post-kiri-cake-guilt factor, I use only Perly (like twelve of them), half the number of eggs as Perlys. And sugar. It’s super creamy but not as rich as Kiri cake.

  3. Thank you for commenting on my blog!
    I love this cheesecake – very easy … much like a flan but with a crust!

    I will be following you from now – I love this blog!

  4. Dear Nora,

    Greetings! I read your recent post about Frances Moore Lappé’s “Diet for a Small Planet.” I am writing on behalf of the Small Planet Institute, founded by Frances Moore Lappé and Anna Lappé. Frances has seen your post and is thrilled to be mentioned. She has asked me to reach out to you to extend our gratitude that you are engaging with these ideas. As you discuss many of the issues that concern Frances, would you like to be added to the Small Planet Institute mailing list? That way, you can keep up with Frances’ and Anna’s newest writings and events, as well as receive our e-newsletter. If you haven’t already, check out the Small Planet Institute website at smallplanet.org to read more about Frances’ latest work, Getting a Grip.

    All Good Wishes,

    Tess Carenbauer
    Small Planet Institute
    25 Mt. Auburn St. #203
    Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138

  5. N.i says:

    Hey aoa I’m new here in morocco and I’m finding pretty difficult to find ingredients
    I went around looking for cream cheese but couldn’t find one with minimal salt content maybe bcoz I don’t know arabic or French
    Is it any kiri cheese or a special one cause it needs to have a minimal salt content
    And btw r sesame seeds available here
    Jzk khair

  6. My friend asked me to do that for her, like a challenge, and I have no idea if I can make it or not, especially that I don’t have all the tools at my house, but once I get them I will do it for sure, I just came across this website, but I guess I will be a regular visitor to it from now on😉
    Thank you so much🙂

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