Eat the Cheesecake the Obamas Eat

There’s a cool article in the NYTimes today about the pastry chef in the White House. He sounds like an incredibly fun guy and he includes a recipe for cheesecake, which is apparently revamped from Mamie Eisenhower’s recipe. I’m not sure what prompted him to give the recipe for cheesecake, but it’s just in time for Shavuot, so maybe I’ll give it a go in the ol’ MJL test kitchen this weekend. In the meantime, here’s the recipe for those other adventurous cooks out there.


4 ounces butter (1 stick), melted, plus extra for greasing the pan

6 ounces chocolate wafer cookies

3 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons flour


12 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

6 tablespoons granulated sugar

2 tablespoons honey

1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature

1/4 cup heavy cream, at room temperature

2 eggs, at room temperature

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Sour cream or crème fraîche for topping (optional).

1. To make crust: Heat oven to 300 degrees. Butter an 8-inch springform or plain cake pan, and line bottom with a circle of parchment paper.

2. Spread cookies on a baking pan and toast until very dry, about 10 minutes. Remove, and leave oven on. Pulse in food processor to make medium-fine crumbs. Mix one cup tightly packed crumbs in a bowl with sugar and flour, then mix in melted butter. Pour into prepared pan and press in evenly.

3. To make the filling: In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix cream cheese until smooth and fluffy, scraping down sides to eliminate lumps. Add sugar and honey, and mix until smooth. Scrape down sides and add sour cream and heavy cream, then mix for 2 minutes, scraping down sides a few times.

4. With mixer running, add vanilla and then eggs one at a time and mix until completely smooth. Pour over cookie base in prepared pan.

5. Place pan in a larger baking pan. Fill that with hot water halfway up the side of the cake pan. Bake 80 to 90 minutes, just until set. To test for doneness, shake cake pan gently. There should be no liquidity, but it should undulate in a mass, like Jell-O. Remove to a rack and let cool, then refrigerate in the pan at least 3 hours or overnight.

6. If using springform pan, remove the ring. If using a plain cake pan, warm bottom of pan over a very low flame one minute, moving it constantly to distribute heat. Invert cake onto a plate, then quickly re-invert onto a serving plate.

7. Frost top of cake with a thin layer of sour cream, if using. Use a thin-bladed knife to cut into pieces, wiping blade in between cuts.

Yield: 8 to 12 servings.

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