Today was officially the end of the holidays for us. Kids back at school, parents all back to work, and the merriment of Christmas and New Year’s gone for another year. One of us has succeeded in taking down the Christmas tree and packing away the decorations, while the other is still wondering if the tree should stay up until Easter, decorated for every holiday between now and then, the way it did last year. Despite our home décor differences, both of us agree that it might be time to do away with any leftover sweets and treats. After all, it’s a new year, and for a few weeks at least, we should focus on joining countless others who vow that this is the year that we eat well, and exercise more. But then again, life is short, and dessert is good.
It’s no surprise that even when most physical signs of Christmas are gone, there are some remnants in the kitchen. Because we each baked about 200 melomakarona (no kidding) this year, we certainly found ourselves with a few cookies left over. Although melomakarona keep for a long while, and are delicious with a cup of Greek coffee or some soothing mountain tea, they are also incredibly recyclable. We like to use our remaining melomakarona to make this incredible cheesecake. This dessert is so good that if you don’t have any leftover melomakarona, we think you should bake a batch just for the cheesecake.
You will need about 8 – 10 melomakarona to make this cheesecake. The exact number will depend on the size of each cookie. The most important thing is to be sure that you can get 1 1/2 cups (375 ml) of melomakarona crumb. You can create this crumb by using a food processor or a high speed blender. If you don’t have either a food processor or a blender, place your cookies in a strong Ziploc bag and smash them with a rolling pin or a can.
Despite what our Thea Voula does when making her phenomenal cheesecake (featured under More Kouppes), we suggest that you use a more traditional approach to cheesecake baking here. This means that you should bake your cake in a spring form pan placed in a water bath. If you have cursed cracked cheesecake tops in the past, the water bath is the answer to your cheesecake prayers. By baking your cake in water you ensure a smooth surface, free of cracks, and a texture that is rich, creamy and simply dreamy.
Baking in a water bath however has its risks. Because spring form pans are not seamless (that is, they come apart), there is the possibility of water leaking into your cake. You do not want this to happen. In order to prevent it, wrap your spring form pan in at least 2 layers of aluminum foil. Try to arrange your foil in such a way that there is minimal risk of water getting to the pan through the base and ring junction.
When you prepare your cheesecake batter, beat all the ingredients well using the paddle attachment of your stand mixer if you have one. Otherwise, a hand held mixer will work. Although you are aiming for a smooth and uniform batter, you may find that small lumps of cream cheese just do not want to go away. Don’t worry about it; these small pieces of stubborn cream cheese will melt away as the cake bakes, and all will be well.
Baking cheesecake is a lesson in patience. Not only will your cheesecake bake for an hour, but it then needs to cool as it sits in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours. Don’t be tempted to cut into your cake earlier than that; you may end up with a runny mess.
After your cheesecake has cooled for the requisite amount of time, the fun begins. You can see how we like to decorate this cheesecake in the photos. This is just our way. Feel free to experiment! Let your creativity run wild! The cake is your canvas! We suggest however that you stick to using honey, melomakarona and walnuts so that the flavours work. Try this, see how you like it (we promise, you’ll love it!) and then, the next time go wild! 🙂
Any leftover cheesecake will keep well in the refrigerator for several days. Be sure to cover it with some plastic wrap.
Mia Kouppa: Melomakarona Cheesecake
- 1 1/2 cups (375 ml) crumbled melomakarona
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) melted butter
- 3 packages of cream cheese (24 ounces or 678 grams)
- 3 large eggs
- 3/4 cup (180 ml) granulated white sugar
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) honey For the topping:
- 2 melomakarona cookies, broken into bite size pieces
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) melomakarona crumbs
- 3 – 4 tablespoons (45 – 60 ml) walnuts
- honey for drizzling
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Cut 2 large pieces of aluminum foil, larger than the bottom of the spring form pan you will be using to bake your cheesecake. Wrap your pan tightly so that the seam between your pan bottom and the pan ring is completely and securely covered with foil. This is because your cake will be baked in a water bath and you need to prevent water from seeping in to the cake.
- Prepare your melomakarona crumb by placing approximately 6 – 7 honey dipped melomakarona in a food processor or blender, until you end up with a fine crumb. Mix together with the melted butter until well combined. Place the crumb into a 9 inch spring form pan and pat it down with your hand in order to make a compact crust. It does not need to come up the side of the pan at all; just be sure that the bottom is completely covered, with no holes, and no areas which are thinner than others.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer add the cream cheese. Mix well until softened. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the sugar and honey and continue to beat until well combined and fluffy. You might find that you have round balls or pieces of cream cheese that have not been perfectly beaten into the mix. Don’t worry about this. The cream cheese will melt during baking and everything will be uniform and lovely. Pour the cream cheese mixture into the pan. Smooth the top so that it is evenly distributed over the crust.
- Place your spring form pan in a larger pan. Place the pans in the middle rack of your preheated oven. Pull the rack out and fill the larger pan with about 1 – 1 1/2 inches of water. Baking your cheesecake this way will ensure that it does not crack, and the filling will be rich and creamy.
- Bake for 60 minutes.
- Remove from oven. Carefully remove the aluminum foil that was protecting your cake. Be careful, there may be hot water in there. Allow your cheesecake to cool in the spring form pan and then place it in the refrigerator, covered loosely, for at least 3 hours or overnight.
- Decorate your cheesecake with the melomakarona crumb, melomakarona pieces, walnuts and honey. Prior to serving, remove the ring of the spring form pan. Enjoy.