Cheesecakes (Sernik, pronounced SEHRR-neek) are a national dish of Poland and are revered in every Eastern European cuisine. The cheese typically used is dry-curd, cottage cheese, not cream cheese as in the United States. This results in a different finished texture but is still delicious in its own right. I like to add the magic of chocolate to make this cheesecake even yummier. This cheesecake is a bit tart, but still creamy enough to be called a great Polish cheesecake.
Prep Time: 1 hour plus
Chill Time: 8 to 12 hours, plus 1 hour rising after rolling out dough
Bake Time: 30 to 40 minutes
Yield: Serves 8 to 10
For the dough:
1 packet dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
2 tablespoons warm water (about 108º F)
1/3 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cups cake flour
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup Choclatique Natura Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg, plus 1 egg yolk
1/2 cup whole milk (lukewarm), divided
For the filling:
1 large (32-oz.) carton small curd cottage cheese
6 large egg yolks
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sour cream
2 teaspoon orange liqueur or pure orange extract
1 teaspoon minced orange peel
4 tablespoon Choclatique Natura Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup dried cherries (soak in 1/2 cup boiling water for 10 minutes and then drain well)
2 tablespoons Semi-Sweet Chocolate Mini Chips
1/3 cup Choclatique Private Reserve Pastilles
For the crust:
- Combine the yeast and the sugar with warm water and set aside to activate the yeast. The yeast mixture should be a frothy, bubbly brown after 10 minutes.
- Using an electric mixer cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
- Add the flours, cocoa powder and salt and mix. The mixture will be pebbly, like for pie crust.
- In a separate bowl, beat the egg with 1/4 cup of the milk.
- Add to the flour mixture along with the yeast. Slowly add the rest of the milk and mix well.
- Turn out the dough and knead by hand.
- Cover the dough in the bowl and refrigerate overnight.
For the filling:
- Using a food processor combine the cottage cheese, egg yolks, sugar, salt, sour cream, lemon juice, orange peel, cocoa powder and vanilla extract and mix until smooth. Make sure to smooth out the curds in the cottage cheese.
- Stir in the plumped cherries and chocolate chips.
- Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface and form into a rectangle.
- Place in the bottom and up along the sides of a 9 x 13 pan.
- Slowly melt the chocolate in a glass bowl in a microwave oven for 30 seconds at 50% power in 30 seconds burst, stirring between each burst.
- Brush the chocolate in a thin layer over the top of the crust.
- Spread the cheese filling over the crust and let the dough rise for 1 hour.
- Bake in a preheated 350° F oven for 30 to 40 minutes, until just set.
ChefSecret: You can also substitute ricotta cheese for the cottage cheese, but then it would have to be called an Italian Cheesecake.