Melomakarona Cheesecake

img_2633Here in Toronto, I visit our Greektown (locally known as The Danforth) at least once a month. One of the reasons I head down there is to pick up the monthly edition of Gastronomos (included in Kathermerini).

Gastronomos keeps me posted on new developments in Greek cookery and the issue is always good for resurrecting  an old classic or updating one for comtemporary tastes.img_2426

Each month, a cooking focus is conducted on a Greek classic and four or five “twists” are applied using the dish’s base ingredients. The Christmas issue offered twists on Melomakarona.

Melomakarona are a traditional honey and walnut cookie that are spiced with cinnamon and cloves and finally dunked in a syrup. They last a long time and on occasion, some remain after the holidays.img_1440

The idea of using Melomakarona came from Greece’s famous pastry chef, Stelios Paliaros. I was smitten with this notion of using up leftover Melomakarona as a base for a cheesecake.

I used a basic recipe for a baked cheesecake where half the amount of cream cheese was used and the richness of the cheesecake wasn’t compromised.

This recipe is also an answer to Greek homemakers who seem to always be stuck using Digestive or Petit Beurre cookies as a cheesecake base. For some reason, graham cracker cookies are hard to find in Greece. My question is, why not use Melomakarona cookies for a cheesecake base?

For those living outside of Greece, one can always make a batch of Melomekarona and if you’re concerned about their availablity, most Greek bakeries sell them all year ’round.img_2564

Making this Melomakarona cheesecake did not go without debate. Us Greeks are a passionate folk and my mom and I had long debated whether this cheesecake would work or not.

The excuse to make this cheesecale was set…my mom’s hometown friends were over for dinner. The purpose for the recipe was to use up leftover Melomakarona from Christmas. The result…a table-full of pleasantly surprised and delighted Greek-Canadian immigrants who adored the Cheesecake with a Melomakarona base.

Melomakarona Cheesecake
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9 in. springform pan

Crust
1/4 stick of unsalted butter, melted
1 1/3 cups of ground Melomakarona cookies

Filling
2 8oz. bricks of cream cheese, softened
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 pint of Greek yogurt
zest of 1 orange
splash of vanilla extract

coarsely ground walnuts
ground cinnamon to taste

Pre-heated 325F
  1. In a food processor, add your Melomakarona cookies and pulse into a medium ground. Add into a mixing bowl and add your melted butter and mix until the crumbs are entirely coated by the butter.
  2. Lightly coat the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan and place your ground Melomakarona crumbs on the bottom and press the cookie crumbs down using the bottom of a measuring cup or a smoothglass bottom. Place in the fridge so that the crust sets.
  3. For the filling, add your softened cream cheese in a bowl and beat with an electric hand mixer on low speed for a minute (until smooth and no lumps). Add the eggs, one at a time and contineue to beat slowly. Add the sugar gradually and beat until creamy, for another minute or two.
  4. Add the Greek yogurt, orange zest and vanilla. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the beaters on occasion until the batter is well-mixed but not overbeaten. Pour the cream cheese filling into the crust-lined springform pan and smooth the top with a spatula.
  5. Place the springform on a large piece of aluminum foil and fold the sides up around it. Place the cake in a roasting pan and carefully pour boiling water into the roasting pan (about halfway up the the cake). Bake for 60 to 75 minutes (middle rack) or until the cheesecake just slightly jiggles. Allow to cool in pan to room temperature.
  6. Cover and place in the fridge for at least four hours before serving. Loosen the springform pan and carefully remove the cheesecake and place on a serving plate.
  7. Drizzle some honey or simple syrup (from making candied orange peel). Grind some walnuts in a food processor with some cinnamon and sprinkle on top of the cheesecake. Serve a dollop or rosette of whipped cream and top with a candied orange peel.
  8. Use a sharp knife dipped in a glass of hot water when slicing each wedge of cake.

If you are not reading this post in a feed reader or at  http://kalofagas.ca then the site you are reading is illegally publishing copyrighted material. Contact me at truenorth67 AT gmail DOT COM. All recipes, text and photographs in this post are the original creations & property of the author.

© 2007-2009 Peter Minakis

© 2009 – 2011,
Peter Minakis

. All rights reserved.

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78 Comments for “Melomakarona Cheesecake”

says:

Very nice. I swear those photos are sending out calories. The idea of those cookies in that combo is out of this world. Very nice! And I detect some more changes to your theme — the sidebar is looking very nice. I like the dark lines. Classy.

says:

Oh my Gosh….that looks so insanely gorgeous…love tht cheese cake…although I am not a big fan of cheese in cakes…( I know I know I am a little eccentric..)

Peter have been intending to ask you what is the meaning of your blog title? Just curious.

says:

geeeez Peter! I am so glad to see you have a sweet tooth. That cheesecake! Holy mother of….
I really want to try those walnut & honey cookies too. Dangerous, very dangerous.

says:

Graham Crackers are not difficult to be found in Greece. They probably don’t know that they are the same as Digestive Biscuits.

says:

Ivy, graham cracker wafers and digestive cookies are not one & the same. Notes of cinnamon and some ginger can be detected in graham crackers, digestives are butter and hint of vanilla. Two very different cookies…a different resulting cheesecake.

says:

Are. You. Kidding. Me??? I’m speechless! Your idea of using the Melomakarona in this was incredible. Not only that, but it’s just beautiful to look at. Your garnish embellishments are lovely. I can see why your guests enjoyed it. YUM!

says:

A friend of mine makes cheese cake with melomakarona.
I have to try this, but I am afraid i’ll eat al the melomakarona (cause I like them very much) and then it would be nothing fot the base of the cheesecake;-)

Vivian

says:

Delightful combination, Peter. I just learned that walnuts possess a high amount of natural Omega 3 fatty acids, so the more ways we can consume them, the better!

says:

I do not like cheesecakes. this is tempting even me to atleast try it for the sake of the flavors that went it there!! the initial honey,walnut, cinnamon, clove got me going:-).. the orange zest, less cheese.. Perfect!

Dimitris

says:

Hey I remember “Το κουρδιστό Γουρούνι – Ζυθεστιατόριο”!

That is in Thessaloniki fairly close to Aghia Sophia Church :)

says:

that looks amazing!!! wow, mouthwatering mmm mmm!! i used a melomakarona base once as a substitute for short cut pastry in a tart recipe, it added a nice twist! great new blog btw!!havent been on here for a while

says:

That cheesecake definitely has a WOW factor! Wiping the drool off my screen :)

I just wanted to tell you we had the roasted chicken and baked rice for Sunday supper, my guys LOVED the rice and the junior food critic requested that I make the rice this way in the future. I used my homemade vegggie broth, and I have to say that baked rice is much better than on top of the stove. Thank you :)

says:

Two thoughts:

(1) If I were a cake I’d be a cheesecake.

(2) Is it possible to put on a few pounds from licking the screen? ;)

Nicely done, Peter. Next time, more photos from “The Danforth,” I want to go on a tour of your Greektown!

says:

I really like how you took this dessert and made it your own. I’ve never had melomakarona (or a cheesecake with yogurt), but I could definitely see myself devouring that quickly. It looks fantastic!

says:

how utterly delicious! we tend to have left over melomakarona when my mum makes them (i know sad really) and this would be a kickass way to put them to good use. i wonder if you could do the same thing with kourabiedes?

says:

This looks amazing, Peter. I love the idea of combining the greek yogurt in with the cream cheese, too. I much prefer Mediterranean style (less sweet, more baked) cheese cakes to the overly sweetened versions you find in the U.S. I will definitely try some form of this soon.

says:

Haha, my heart skipped a beat when I read Makaronia cheesecake! I thought it was your entry for the pastitsio contest and that you were presenting us with a sweet pasta cheesecake! Now that’s an idea….

maria

says:

Καλά, ούτε που θα το σκεφτόμουν ποτέ να το φτιάξω! Αυτός ο Στέλιος Παρλιάρος δημιουργεί κάθε φορά!
amazing recipe! will try it after the holidays (if there are any leftovers from the melomakarona, which I doubt)

Kikh

says:

Hi!

Would it be ok with you if I repost the recipe using your pictures at my Facebook page A Taste of Crete. It looks amazing and the pictures are great, so I would like to share it with my followers.

Kind regards
Kickie

says:

Kiki, your site is for commercial purposes. Would you like to purchase the photos/recipe?

Kikh

says:

My page is simply an expression for my love of Crete and all fantastic Greek food I stumble upon, I had no idea it was a commercial site. I do all the cooking and exploring on my free time and I don’t make any money from the site, I rather spend my money for it:) Unfortunately I’m on a tight budget and will have to wait until I baked myself.
Thank you for a prompt answer and congratulations to a great site!

Kikh

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