You really don’t need any reason to make a cheese cake for Chanukah. However there is a specific connection between cheese and the festival of lights! At this time we recall the brave heroine, Judith who helped save her people by slaying the vicious Greek general, Holofernes, (164 B.C.E.) with the help of a little cheese and alcohol ~ hence the cheese cake with rum!
Holofernes had brought the Jews of Bethulia to the brink of death by seizing the town's only spring of water. The people grew desperate as they began to weaken from thirst. The beautiful Judith stepped forward and asked to see Holofernes. Taken by Judith's loveliness and charm, Holofernes invited her to an evening banquet intending to seduce her. Judith brought a large wineskin to share with him. Charmingly, she plied him with salty cheeses, then as he grew more and more thirsty, offered him great quantities of wine to slake his thirst.
When Holofernes fell into a drunken stupor, Yehudis took his sword and cut off his head. When Holofernes' soldiers found his body, they were so demoralized that they fled in panic. The town of Bethulia was saved, along with the rest of Israel.
This vanilla and dulce de leche (toffee) cheese cake certainly has the oow and wow factor. Make it when you have a lot of guests as it is amazingly delicious but quite rich and does serve 12 people. However once completely cool you can freeze it. Dulce de leche (the name means "sweet milk"
is a traditional dairy product from Argentina. It is used as a topping for ice cream or fresh fruit, like bananas, as a filling for cakes like this cheese cake. Thick and intensely flavoured, it should be slightly warmed to make it pourable.
Preparation Time: 30 minutes plus 6 hours 15 minutes cooling
Cooking Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Serves: 10 -12 people