I like rosewater, can you tell? Honestly, I hadn’t even heard of the stuff before I married into a Sephardic family. And I didn’t like it at first either.
Rosewater has a very distinct, perfumy taste and you either love it or hate it. I like how it compliments certain dishes, when used in the right proportions – never too much, just a splash for subtle floral notes.
I especially like to incorporate rosewater into my Shavuot recipes since the holiday is also called “The Feast of the Roses”. On Shavuot, Jews commemorate the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai. It is told that Mount Sinai was covered in roses at the time the Torah was received, so many communities have a custom to decorate their homes and synagogues (as well as Torah scrolls) with roses. In some Sephardic synagogues, it is customary to sprinkle rose water on the congregants. I’ll pass on that one, but rosewater-scented mousse? yes please.
When it comes to light and airy cheesecake mousse, there are so many possibilities and if rosewater is not your thing, you’ve got plenty of options! Think vanilla, or lemon, almond or coffee, anything tastes good with cream cheese and whip cream! And the filling? You can go to town on that too! Angel food cake, brownie crumbs, blueberry sauce or lemon curd are all great ideas to use in a cheesecake parfait.
Since I’m not much of a baker, and cheesecake is so difficult to perfect (just ask Molly), I take the easy no-bake route and go for the mousse. It’s Shavuot after all, so we get to whip out (pun intended) the heavy cream and really go at it!
If you follow my blog, you probably know that I love to cook seasonally, so when Shavuot rolls around, I always try to incorporate something rhubarb or strawberry into my menu. You can go with fresh or frozen here, but since I always keep my freezer stocked for smoothies and popsicles, I went with that. The sweet and tangy ruby-colored sauce, with notes of honey and pomegranate, is a perfect match to the rosewater-scented cheesecake. I finish it with some cinnamon graham cracker crumbs (mixed with some melted butter, of course) and a shaving of white chocolate. Does it get any better than that?!
Now that I’ve got my dessert down pat, I’ve got to think up some menu’s for our 3-day food fest! I’ll definitely be making my gluten free broccoli parmesan poppers (recipe to be posted on Wednesday), as well as my famous roasted eggplant parmesan. I’m thinking of making my roasted tomato soup with muenster breadsticks and maybe my zucchini parmesan chips. Goat cheese ice cream is always a huge hit and this linguini lasagna is a huge time saver.
Of course there will be some meat meals too, and these Moroccan fish balls are definitely making an appearance as an appetizer. What’s cooking in your kitchen for the holidays? I’d love to hear your menu’s (maybe it will give me some ideas!), so leave a comment and share them with me below!
And don’t forget to check out the Shavuot category for more great recipes and ideas!
Rosewater Cheesecake Mousse Parfaits
For the Base:
1 1/2 cups cinnamon graham crumbs crumbs (from 1 sleeve of crackers, about 9)
3 tablespoons butter, melted
Mix the graham cracker crumbs with the melted butter and press into the bottom of serving glasses.
For the Mousse:
2 cups heavy cream
2 8oz. containers lowfat whipped cream cheese
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1/2 – 1 tsp rosewater (or to taste)
Whip the heavy cream until stiff and set aside. In a separate bowl, beat the cream cheese, confectioner’s sugar and rosewater until fluffy. Fold the whip cream into the cream cheese mixture.
VARIATION: If you don’t like rosewater, use 2 tsp vanilla extract instead.
For the Strawberry Rhubarb Sauce:
1 lb frozen strawberries
1/2 lb frozen rhubarb
1/2 cup pomegranate juice
1/2 cup honey
1/4 tsp lemon zest
1 cinnamon stick
Pinch of salt
Add all the ingredients to a pot and bring the mixture to a boil. Using a potato masher or the back of a spoon, break up the fruit and simmer until thickened, about 15 minutes. Cool and refrigerate until ready to use.
Pipe the cheesecake mousse on top of the graham cracker crumbs, filling about 1/3rd of the serving glass. Top with strawberry rhubarb sauce and another layer of cheesecake mousse. Garnish with graham cracker crumbs and white chocolate shavings.
Yield: approximately 10 4 oz. servings