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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Just in time for Shavuot

[I posted these recipes before Shavuot back in 2006, but it occurred to me that there has probably been a significant turn over in readership here at treppenwitz since then.  So here they are again.  Don't thank me... I'm a giver!]

I am not a gourmet cook by any stretch of the imagination, but I do have a nice repertoire of main dishes, desserts and confections that I make quite well. 

Very few of these dishes are old family recipes, and there's really no plausible reason to be secretive about how they are prepared.  Yet my Über-patient wife can tell you that I have a childish habit of keeping most of these recipes locked up in a little leather-bound diary... and of not sharing them with anyone!

I can't explain why I started this stupidity.  I'm guessing it's because I love when people enjoy the things I prepare, so some subliminal instinct likely kicks in that wants to force them to have to come back to me whenever they wish to taste these culinary treats again.

I'm quite a catch, no?

So, we're all in agreement that I have a problem... and that it would probably be therapeutic to try to work through it. 

It would be therapeutic for me to loosen up and realize that people will still want to enjoy things I've prepared even if they could easily prepare them themselves.  It would be therapeutic for my wife (who LOVES to share recipes) since she won't be tempted to chase me around the kitchen with a cast-iron skillet. 

But the true beneficiaries of this attempt to become a better person will be you, dear reader.  Starting today you will get to see some of the stuff I've had locked away all these years.

So, as the holiday of Shavuot is upon us, I thought I'd share a couple of recipes that lend themselves nicely to a dairy menu.

The first one is a recipe for ersatz Kahlua® I inherited from a friend back in the early '80's while we were undergraduates at Hebrew University on Mount Scopus.  A batch of this stuff costs a tiny fraction of the real stuff... and it tastes exactly the same! 

Ersatz Kahlua®


  • 4 cups water
  • 6 teaspoons instant coffee
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 ½ cup vodka (use the cheap stuff)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon chocolate syrup (optional) *

1. Bring water to a boil and add instant coffee and both white and brown sugar.

2. Immediately after pouring in sugar turn down the heat and simmer for 20 minutes (stirring occasionally)

3. Remove from heat, add vanilla and chocolate (if used) and allow to cool.

4.Once liquid is cool, add vodka (don't add the vodka to the hot mixture or the alcohol will evaporate)

Once all the steps are completed give the whole mess a good stir and immediately pour into empty bottles (using a funnel) and close tightly.  The whole process shouldn't take longer than an hour start to finish!

Note:  You can safely double this recipe, but I've had bad results when I've tried to triple or quadruple it.  Also, if you want to make ersatz Tia Maria® instead of Kahlua®, just use rum instead of vodka.  They are otherwise identical recipes.

*  If you want to keep your ersatz Kahlua® parve (meaning non-dairy), make sure to use a parve pot and non-dairy chocolate syrup (or leave out this optional ingredient if you can't find parve choc. syrup).

OK, other than getting hammered on ersatz black/white Russians, sombreros and mudslides, I'm sure you were wondering what else you could do with your newly minted stash of ersatz Kahlua®.

I'm glad you asked:

Chocolate [ersatz] Kahlua® Cheesecake


  • 8 oz. Chocolate cookie crumbs (I use Oreo® crumbs if I can find them)
  • ½ cup melted butter
  • 2 envelopes of dessert topping (e.g. Dream Whip® or similar)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 lb. cream cheese (splurge and use the Raskas or Philly!)
  • 2 tablespoons [ersatz] Kahlua®
  • ⅔ cup sugar
  • 12 oz chocolate chips (melted and cooled)
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • One square bittersweet chocolate
  • 10" (or two 8") un-greased spring-form pan(s)

1.  If chocolate cookies aren't pre-crumbled, crush them into a fine crumbly mess and place in a mixing bowl.

2.  Add melted butter to cookie crumbs and mix thoroughly

3.  Press buttery crumbs into an even layer on the bottom of the spring-form pan(s)

4.  Bake for 7 - 8 minutes @ 350° and then put in refrigerator to chill

5.  Process dessert topping with milk until stiff

6.  Add cream cheese and mix until smooth (no lumps!)

7.  Add [ersatz] Kahlua®, sugar and melted chocolate chips

8.  Process until smooth and then pour over chilled cookie crust(s)

9.  Lick bowl until face and ears are sufficiently chocolaty and then wash mixing bowl

10. Process whipping cream until stiff (but not too much or you'll end up with butter!!!)

11. Pour over chocolate layer using a spatula.

12. Garnish with shavings of bittersweet chocolate

Note: Refrigerate for minimum of 6 - 8 hours before serving!

Wow, that was a liberating experience!  I need to open up like this more often!

BTW, on a related note... Zahava and I went to a wedding a couple of years ago where something very special was done for the bride and groom.  Everyone was asked to give an extra gift:

On every table was a stack of index-size cards and pens, along with a note asking everyone at the table to write down their very favorite recipe... the one that they knew by heart and which never failed to get rave reviews (everyone has at least one!!!).  It could be an appetizer, a soup, a main dish, a dessert, anything at all... so long as it was a personal favorite. 

The result was that at the end of the wedding, the bride and groom were able to start their married life with a huge stack of well-loved and proven recipes that would normally have taken a lifetime to compile.

If you know anyone making a wedding soon you should suggest this to them.

Posted by David Bogner on May 27, 2009 | Permalink


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Reading cheesecake recipe has made me gain 3kg in the reading of it! Now we know why you set us all off on this walking business, so that we could eat your scrummy recipes with impunity. Thanks....you are a giver.

Posted by: Noa | May 27, 2009 11:38:21 AM

No one is going to remember recipes at a wedding! The time to ask is in the monthes before! When I got married, I asked my Mom for certain recipes, and I still have what she sent, written on aereograms, and titled at the Top:
"Mother Knows Best Cookbook" GRIN!

Posted by: rickismom | May 27, 2009 11:55:58 AM

Sure. Give out recipes AFTER I've done my shopping for Yom Tov. I, on the other hand, posted my recipe for the best cheescake EVER days ago to give everyone plenty of time to gather the ingredients.

Ah, well. I'll file it away for next time. I think Isaac would like that kahlua thing.

Posted by: Baila | May 27, 2009 12:28:50 PM

Noa... Yes I am. :-)

rickismom... C'mon now. Everyone knows at least one recipe by heart! It is usually one of their favorites (which is why they remember it). Those are the ones that you share with the people you care about.

Baila... You have Friday and Shabbat. Who says you can't have two different kinds of cheesecake? :-)

Posted by: treppenwitz | May 27, 2009 12:55:53 PM

Same for me. I found the recipe after the meals had been planned. I'll still keep yours in mind for a later occasion.

Posted by: Ilana-Davita | May 27, 2009 3:35:56 PM


turn over implies that you lost some readers over the years, I would say that you posted the recipes for all the new readers out there as well as those who did not print the recipes back in 2006 ;-)

for the Ersatz Kahlua have you tried replacing the 2 cups of white sugar with Splenda?

Posted by: David S. | May 27, 2009 8:30:45 PM

Chag Sameach!

Posted by: SaraK | May 27, 2009 10:42:57 PM

OK, so I see that all your comments are cheesecake related. I have a more basic question:

Kahlua is significantly thicker (syrupier) than Tia Maria. How does replacing Vodka with Rum account for the difference in consistency???

Enquiring minds want to know.

Further, I think Kahlua is sweeter than Tia Maria, but Rum is sweeter than Vodka.

Again, I am perplexed.

Seriously, my husband is a Kahlua man. For me, if depends on my mood, and whether or not I am eating it with vanilla ice cream....

Please send me your response via email.

Is there any way to get a notice when you post a response to comments??? (I know that blogger has that feature...)

Chag Sameach!!!

Posted by: Rivka with a capital A | May 28, 2009 12:00:59 AM

the recipe gift idea is great, I've never seen it at a wedding but I've thrown lots of bridal showers for friends and that's always one of the activities I include.

Posted by: G | May 28, 2009 12:25:06 PM

If you really want to be a Tzaddik, you will whip up one of those cheesecakes and leave it in the freezer of your parents' apartment....

Posted by: marsha, currently in Miami Beach... | May 28, 2009 8:38:01 PM

I made this cake a few years ago when you posted it the first time; it's fantastic!! : ) Thanks for the recipe.

Posted by: zemirah | May 30, 2009 1:15:23 PM

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