Monday, March 7, 2011

Since moving abroad, I have learned how to substitute certain ingredients.

When I need molasses, I use pekmez - a Turkish grape molasses. For sour cream, I use süzme yoğurt - a thick, strained Turkish yogurt. This yogurt also makes tasty dips such as cacik - the classic Turkish cucumber and yogurt dip/sauce.

I've been wanting to make a cheesecake for a while haven't had the time lately. When I did set adie some time the other day, I picked up some Turkish labne to substitute for cream cheese. Labne is a spreadable cream cheese made from strained yogurt. You really can't tell the difference in taste.

Some stores do sell Philadelphia Cream Cheese at a price - about 12 lira for a 3 oz. package! Just think of how many small packages you must buy to make a cheesecake! However, I bought this tub of labne for about 7 lira.

Next substitution - no graham crackers so I picked up a package of these Eti Finger Bisküvi. The ingredient list sounded like a basic cookie recipe with vanilla so I figured
 the taste would be similar to what I wanted.

They were perfect and tasted almost like vanilla wafers! I just crushed up the biscuits in 
my food processor to make the crust of the cheesecake.

For the cheesecake base, I modified my normal U.S. recipe a bit to fit with the amount
of ingredients I was working with this time. The end result was a dense, creamy NY-style
cheesecake with a hint of citrus and chocolate. It was just the way I like it!

I set aside a small portion of the batter to make this 4-inch cheesecake for my husband.
I garnished it with toasted hazelnuts.

Afiyet olsun!

Turkish NY-Style Cheesecake
Makes one 10-inch/25 cm. cake

275   g.  biscuit cookies, finely ground
100   g.  butter, melted

750   g.  labne at room temperature
200   g.  granulated sugar
200   g.  krema or heavy cream
1     ea.  lemon zest, finely grated
3      T.  flour
3     ea.  large eggs
1     ea.  large egg yolk
1      T.  vanilla extract
75    g.   dark chocolate, melted

1.  In a small mixing bowl, mix together the ground cookies and butter. Press the mixture
 into the bottom and partly up the sides of a metal springform pan. Wrap aluminum foil
 around the bottom of the pan and up the sides because you will be baking the cheesecake
 in a water bath later.
2.  Bake the crust in a pre-heated oven of 350 F/175 C for about 6 to 8 minutes or until lightly
 browned around the edges. Set aside to cool.
3.  Using a hand mixer or stand mixer, place the labne and sugar into a metal bowl and
 cream together until well blended.
4.  Next, mix in the krema, lemon zest and flour, and blend again.
5.  Next, slowly add in the eggs and vanilla, making sure to scrape down the sides of the
 bowl now and then to prevent any lumps in your mixture.
6.  Lastly, mix in the melted chocolate.
7.  Pour the mixture into the crust-lined pan.
8.  Place the pan onto a larger tray with sides and fill the tray with about 1/2-inch of water.
 Alternatively, place a pan of water on the rack below the cheesecake. This will create 
steam heat while the cheesecake is baking. Bake the cheesecake in a preheated oven
 of 400 F/200 C for 10 minutes.
9.  Reduce the temperature to 250 F/125 C. Leave the oven door ajar for a few minutes
 so the internal temperature can drop.
10. Continue baking the cheesecake for about 30-40 minutes or so until the cheesecake
 is barely set. (I used the convection fan on my oven the whole time and I think the
 cake baked a bit quicker this way.)
11. Turn off the oven, leave the door slightly ajar, and let the cheesecake cool in the
 oven for 1 more hour. Chill.
12. Tip:  After the cheesecake cools down, I like to freeze it, which makes it easier
 to cut into perfect slices.

Tagged: , ,


Anonymous said...

As substitude to sour cream....
Just want to know if suzme can be cooked/baked like sour cream?

Thank you.

Joy said...

Yep, I've pretty much always used suzme in place of sour cream even in enchiladas and such. It can be thinned out with a little milk or cream if you want as well. Cheers!

Anonymous said...

could you please write a blog on how you make enchiladas in turkey. i am from america as well and currently living in istanbul. im having trouble making mexican food. do you have recipes?

Joy said...

Hi Anonymous, It's been awhile since I've made enchiladas. Just got to make a tomato sauce from scratch, fill with meet and top with kasar cheese. Also, I'd recommend checking out the Facebook page of Cooking Corner in Turkey. Lots of great advice there.

Here's 2 posts of my Mexican recipes:
Comida Mexicana at Home in Istanbul

Spicy Black Bean Chili

Anonymous said...

I once read in a Turkish cooking magazine that they made sour cream by mixing equal parts Suzme yogurt with krema, stir & let sit for 4 hrs. It's really good! Softens the yogurt sharpness to more of a creamy sour-cream. I haven't cooked with it though. Also, there's a 200g packet of Taze Pastorize Beyaz Peynir (Pinar brand) in the cheese section that many friends use for cream cheese & cheese cakes. Have you tried that compared to the labne?
I looked for the Facebook group/page but couldn't find it...Is that the full name "Cooking Corner in Turkey/"

Joy said...

@Anonymous, Here's the FB group:

The taze krem peynir is very expensive compared to labne here, and I think it has a slightly gummy texture compared to Philly American Cream Cheese. That's why I prefer to use labne and I add flour for a thickening agent.

Regarding sour cream, I just use the suzme yogurt and thin out with a bit of krema or whole milk. Works great for baking. There's several recipes out there to make your own sour cream. Here's one:

Homemade Sour Cream

1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup sour cream or buttermilk (or even white vinegar will work)


"In a screw-top jar or mason jar with lid, combine the heavy cream and sour cream (or buttermilk). Shake the ingredients up a bit to thoroughly mix and let stand, covered, at room temperature for about 24 hours or until it becomes very thick. You can store your sour cream in the refrigerator in the original jar you mixed it in (or use some other resealable container) for up to one week. Make sure that your sour cream is well chilled before using."

stephanie said...

Hi Joy, I hope you are having fun in Poland! I just wanted to tell you that Kaan loves cheesecake and after he ordered it from a restaurant here (dry, tasteless and gross) I thought i'll look at Joy's website and find one! I just made this and its so yummy!!!! Thanks again! xo

Joy said...

Hi Stephanie! Great to hear from you! Poland is good, a bit cold, but we survive! ;-)

Happy to hear my cheesecake is Kwan approved! This was probably my most requested recipe from expats in Istanbul! Afiyet Olsen!

Anonymous said...

Hi can I use suzme peynir to make a non bake cheesecake? I usually use labne but didn’t have my glasses and picked up the wrong one