This silky-smooth baked confection, creaminess masquerading as a cake, sets my salivary glands dripping. Best served on Shabbos morning as padding for the several hours of shul-going ahead, or at a Shavuot dinner, cheesecake is a shout-out to the magnificence of all things light and sweet: cream cheese, eggs, sugar. For people raised on Jewish cuisine, the unalloyed milchigness of cheesecake comes as something of a relief, a counterpoint to the dominant melody of cholent and brisket. If it isn’t a quintessentially Jewish dessert, it should be legislated as one—proof that sometimes simplicity wins out, even for a people who have God on the brain.
Daphne Merkin, a contributing writer at The New York Times Magazine and a contributing editor at Elle, teaches writing at Hunter College. Her latest book is a memoir, This Close to Happy, a reckoning with depression.