I grew up in a Methodist family, so every weekend, we piled into the minivan and navigated to the church across town for the service (my parents) and Sunday school (my brother and me). Tempted by the promise of donut holes and apple juice, us children quietly colored, sang songs, and learned the kiddie version of scripture while my parents worshiped in the main sanctuary.
In 7th and 8th grade, the middle school students attended Confirmation classes, where we delved deeper into how our denomination began and learned about others’ beliefs. One Sunday, our teacher invited his good friend to speak, a woman who converted from Methodism to Judaism a decade or two earlier.
She passed out yamakas for us to slip onto our heads while she shared information about the similarities and differences between our customs. She also explained stories about particular Jewish holidays and traditions, including a lesser-known one called Shavuot.
Celebrated on June 3-5 this year, Shavuot marks the days where the Jewish people received the Torah at Mount Sinai. They participate in festivities, like the bringing of first fruits to the Temple, and eat dairy in recognition of their ancestors taking the time to learn the methods to properly prepare kosher meat dishes.
Combining the idea of their first fruits practice with the reference to Israel as “the land of milk and honey,” I created a sweet new dairy dessert just in time for Shavuot…
Honeyed Peach Cheesecake! The creamy base, studded with juicy tidbits of fruit, sits atop a classic graham cracker crust, and a light honey drizzle drips down the sides of each slice, tying the summery flavors together. Despite its richly indulgent taste, this cheesecake is actually low-calorie and packed with over 14 grams of protein per serving!
Although cheesecake may look and sound like a daunting dessert, I promise this one is actually incredibly easy to make! It’s even simpler than a regular cake or cupcakes; with so little flour, there’s no chance of over-mixing and ending up with a tough disappointment.
However, you do need a special springform pan, which has removable sides for easy slicing and serving. Most places like Walmart, Target, and special cookware stores sell these, and I found my set containing 3 different sizes at Ross for just $10. Those pans are worth their weight in gold!
Let’s start with the classic cheesecake crust, made from crushed honey graham crackers. Typical cheesecake recipes simply call for mixing it with melted butter, but to lower the fat and calories in my version, I substituted some of that with an egg white instead.
Once the crumbs begin to stick together, press the mixture into the bottom of your springform pan and bake for 8 minutes. That’s just enough time for it to set and start to fill your kitchen with its golden, lightly toasty and delicious smell! Then let the crust cool completely while preparing the filling.
The filling is just as easy to whip up! Beat the cream cheese and sugar until smooth; then mix in everything but the peaches. You can use fresh or canned in juice. In order to make this recipe all year round (and a little cheaper too), I opted for the latter, and I simply rinsed and drained them before dicing. Plus with canned, you don’t have to peel the fruit!
Now fold those into the batter, spread the filling on top of the crust, and smooth out the surface. We’ll bake it low and slow (just like with brownies!) at 300°F for 50-55 minutes to ensure the center cooks through and sides don’t burn. When the cheesecake is done, it should only jiggle a little bit when shaken, and the edges should resist any movement. This recipe is fairly forgiving though, so if you’re worried, let it bake an extra 5 minutes—that won’t destroy its smooth, creamy texture!
The hardest part about any cheesecake is waiting for it to chill. It needs to set in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours, so I usually bake my cheesecakes the night before. By the time I wake up, they’re ready to slice and serve! Although I suppose most people save cheesecake for dessert instead of breakfast…
Just before passing out the forks, drizzle each slice with a little honey. It adds the perfect finishing touch and really brings out the bright fruity flavor of the peaches!
Sweet and sophisticated, this skinny Honeyed Peach Cheesecake embodies summer and its juicy fruit harvest, warm lingering evenings, and luscious creamy desserts. Perfect for an elegant celebration or simple weekend meal, every thick slice will bring a smile to your lips—without a single ounce of guilt!
*Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by the NJOP (National Jewish Outreach Program). All text, photos, and recipe are my own.