My Famous “Beit Hachlamah” Cheesecake Recipe!
I had heard legends, rumors, and countless stories about the Beit Hachlamah in Telzstone, told over by dreamy-eyed women recalling hilarious pajama parties, mountains of food, and delicious long naps which renewed their strength after giving birth. For the uninitiated, “Beit Hachlamah” is the hebrew word for “Convalescent Home”. It’s designed exclusively for post-partum mothers to rest up and be pampered, body and soul, a cross between a high-end hotel and a maternity hospital, with all the perks and none of the sterile medical feel. From the beautiful, luxurious rooms to the sweet, loving bubbies who staff the nurseries lavishing love and attention on the newborns so their mothers can rest up, it’s definitely an experience that women recall with a fond sigh…and is that a tear of longing in their eye? 😄 After all, once they leave this heavenly reprieve, they’re back to full-time Mommy duty, and most of the women who book a stay at the Beit Hachlamah have several young children anxiously awaiting their return.
It wasn’t until I decided to give it a try myself that I truly got a feel for the appeal. Picture two hundred women from all walks of life, of all ages and stages, coming together to a very upgraded version of sleepaway camp! I’m talking loaded buffets for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, uproarious laughter in every corner of the place as new friendships are formed and parenting tips are exchanged…it’s a blast! The camaraderie and cheer are second only to, well, the food. In fact, three all-you-can-eat meals are hardly enough; most women leave the dining room with overflowing plates to take back to their rooms because, y’know, G-d forbid anyone should starve… 😂🤣
The piece de resistance in the menu is, by far, the cheesecake. It’s a Thing. It’s a Tradition. It’s the stuff women pine for, remember with a catch in their voice. It’s the symbol of a time when one could blissfully lie in bed with a book, knowing without a doubt that one’s baby was being bathed, snuggled, and diapered by a surrogate mother, that there were no laundry or dishes to be done, no clamoring children wanting to know when dinner was being served, and there was plenty of food to be had, ’round-the-clock, none of it prepared by said woman. (Best not to ask the husbands back-home their view on the delightful Beit Hachlamah experience. Seems that they are trying to found a Beit Hachlamah of their own for post-partum fathers left holding down the fort to escape to after their wives finally come home!) The cheesecake comes in industrial-sized pans, which are swapped out in quick succession, approximately every sixty seconds as they empty. Fascinated, I approached the Shrine of the Cheesecake and reverently took a small square. (Yes, my friends. Squares, not slices. I know this is probably illegal in some states, but hey, it’s an industrial pan! ;-))
The pleasure circuits in my brain quickly sent me back to the cheesecake stand, and then a thought struck me: Why not get the recipe so I could recreate this little piece of heaven in my own kitchen? I made my way over to a woman who looked like she might be in charge and casually inquired whether it would be possible to get the recipe.
“I don’t know,” she told me. “I’ll ask the chef.”
I went back to my seat and carried on with the important work of finishing my third slice, er, square, when a loud, rancorous shout pierced the loud, boisterous hum in the cafeteria.
“MEEEE BEEEEKSHA ET HA’MATKONET LA’UGAT GEVEENAHHHHHHHH?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” came a thunderous shout. “Who asked for the cheesecake recipe??!!”
The din of two hundred vacationing women came to a sudden, grinding halt.
Red-faced, I meekly stood up and identified myself as the guilty party. A short, stout woman in an apron looked me up and down, judging whether I seemed morally and mentally fit to receive the carefully-guarded Secret of the Cheesecake. Everyone watched in fascination. I held my breath.
She gave a frowning little hmph, indicating that I did not quite pass muster, but held out a little scrap of paper with the air of one who deigns to magnanimously overlook the deficiencies of another.
“Okay,” barked she, “So listen carefully. First, in a huge basin, you pour in ten gallons of whip cream…” 😂🤣😃😄
With the help of a calculator and someone who is infinitely, thankfully better at Math than me, here’s the non-industrial version 😍. It takes literally two minutes to whip up and is simply delicious!
2 small containers of shamenet metukah li’haktzafah/ sweetened dairy whip cream or one large-sized container
1 container of shamenet chamutzah/sour cream
1/2 c. gevinah levanah/Quark cheese
5 tbsp. vanilla pudding powder
Whip all ingredients together until stiff and pour into a crust of your choice. I simply mix biscuit crumbs with a little vanilla sugar and press it into place. Add toppings as desired–anything from caramel sauce to chocolate to Clic candy and/or nuts. Enjoy!
Be’teiavon, and Gut Yom Tov! 💗💗
Photo by Yulia Khlebnikova on Unsplash