No-Bake Blueberry Cheesecake

This story and recipe were originally published in The Jewish Food Experience on May 19, 2014, but the site no longer exists, and with it, all my articles, stories, and recipes disappeared. I've tried to access the JFE's website through WayBack Machine without much success. Luckily, I found the document on my computer drive. I am also repurposing the old photo published in my teaser for the article. Click on it to learn a bit about the history of Shavuot, the holiday celebrating the giving of the Torah on Mt. Sinai. Cheesecakes are the traditional food Israelis everywhere make on Shavuot. 

Speaking of teasers, my editor at the time came up with a couple cute ones:

"SHORT TEASE: Proust had his madeleine; Shulie has Kapulsky’s cheesecake."

"LONG TEASE: Growing up in Israel, Shulie didn’t eat out much, but the blueberry cheesecake at Kapulsky, the legendary café chain, left lasting memories, so she recreated it at home." 

Nostalgia Tastes Like Blueberry Cheesecake

When I had my first bite of the blueberry cheesecake at Kapulsky, Israel's legendary first café and restaurant chain, it wasn't my first cheesecake, but it was a novelty nonetheless. We rarely dined out. It wasn’t just a question of economics—dining out just wasn’t part of our culture. Homemade food was considered superior in flavor and quality. Besides, other than falafel, shawarma and "street food" stands, in those days, unlike today, cafés and restaurants were few and far between in Israel.

As a young adult who dined out on only a handful occasions, if that, I savored Kapulsky's cheesecake and what was, to me, an exotic ingredient: blueberries. I had never had them before, but they popped with tartness, which I was predisposed to liking, rather than syrupy sweetness.

It's a wonder that Israel had blueberries, which are indigenous to cooler northern climates, at all at the time. But as one recipe I saw indicated, they may have, in fact, come from a can. 

Little did I know that my beloved cheesecake was no-bake and super easy to make. With Shavuot, the holiday celebrating Matan Torah, the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai, during which dairy foods are typically consumed, around the corner, Kapulsky's blueberry cheesecake was a shoo-in. 

Israel, the land of milk and honey, is known for its gvina levana (white cheese), which is used here in this cheesecake recipe. It is unlike anything with which we are familiar here in the US. It's soft, spreadable, creamy and slightly tangy. If you've been to Israel, you’ve probably tried gvina levana at hotel breakfast buffets or in Israeli homes. 

Surprisingly enough, gvina levana, or what's more commonly known here as quark cheese, was brought to Israel by a Christian society, the German Templers, back in 1868, an interesting historical discovery shared by Janna Gur, chief editor of Al HaShulchan, a leading Israeli gastronomic magazine, in her book The Book of New Israeli Food and on her site.

Nowadays when I visit Israel and I walk or drive by Kapulsky, just across the Tel Aviv boardwalk, I am tempted to stop and have a slice of blueberry cheesecake. But, hoping to preserve my nostalgic memories of this slice, I don't. Instead, I opted to make it myself at home, with quark cheese made by Vermont Creamery, which is usually available at Whole Foods and Wegman's. Kosher stores also carry the authentic Israeli version. If you’re especially adventurous, you might even try your hand at making quark cheese from scratch as shown by The Splendid Table. 

My homemade version lived up to my memories and would make Kapulsky proud. 

Prep time: 20-25 mins + overnight freezing 
Cook time: 20 mins
Yield: 12-15 servings

No-bake Blueberry Cheesecake


Cake Ingredients:
¾ ounces kosher gelatin 
1 cup boiling water
2 cups whipping cream
2.2 pounds (1 kilogram) quark cheese
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1½ cups sugar (see author's notes below)

Blueberry Sauce Ingredients:
¼ ounces kosher gelatin
1/3 cup boiling water
18 ounces blueberries
¾ cup sugar (see author's note below)


Grease a 10-inch round springform cake pan and line the bottom and sides with parchment paper.

To make the cheesecake, mix gelatin and boiling water well and let cool, but not gel, at room temperature. Using a mixer with a whisk attachment on medium-high speed, whip the whipping cream for approximately 5 to 7 minutes, or until it forms stiff peaks.

In a separate large bowl, whisk together the quark cheese, vanilla and sugar until well incorporated. The sugar granules will mostly melt into the cheese and will be barely noticeable. Add the gelatin and mix well. Add the quark cheese mixture into the whipped cream and whisk until smooth and well incorporated.

Pour the cheesecake mixture into the middle of the cake pan and tap the cake pan gently on the counter to even out the batter. Cover with foil and put in the freezer.

To make the blueberry sauce, mix gelatin and boiling water and set aside to cool, but not gel. In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the blueberries and sugar. Bring to a boil and turn down to a low simmer, mixing occasionally. Cook for about 20 minutes or until slightly thickened. Remove from heat and add the gelatin to the blueberry sauce. Mix well and let cool completely, but not gel.

Pour the cooled down blueberry sauce over the cheesecake, cover with foil and put in the freezer, preferably overnight. Slice and thaw for only a few minutes, if necessary, before serving.

Author's notes:

The original recipe calls for 1 cup and ½ cup sugar respectively. I found it to be too little. Use sugar based on your taste. I also adapted the recipe, replacing canned blueberries with a homemade blueberry sauce. Since blueberries are low in pectin, a natural gelling agent, I added gelatin to mine. 


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