Epirus

Cheesecake with sheep yogurt and fruit

The classic hearty dessert in a gluten-free, no-bake version with local sheep yogurt.
Ηπειρώτικο Πρωινό-Cheesecake with sheep yogurt and fruit
Before cooking...

Traditional Epirotic desserts are usually extremely plain or made with filo pastry and syrup. The closest the Epirotes ever came to making a cheesecake is the Romaniote Jews’ kousmeri that’s made with unsalted myzithra, mainly in the urban centers of Epirus (Preveza, Arta, Ioannina). However, this modern cheesecake touches upon Epirotic traditions by using a timeless local ingredient, sheep yogurt.

Cheesecake with sheep yogurt and fruit

Ingredients

  • 200 g gluten-free biscuits
  • 100 g butter, melted
  • 2 tbsp dried coconut
  • 1 kg sheep yogurt
  • 1 can of fruit compote
  • 1 cup canned fruit juice
  • 25 g gelatin powder
  • Water (for the gelatine)
  • 300 ml heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons sugar or fructose
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla powder

Note: In Greece, a can of fruit compote contains approximately 825 g of fruit, so that’s the quantity you need. Alternatively, you can use the same quantity of fresh or frozen wild berries.

Execution

  1. Gently blend the biscuits in a food processor to crush them into small chunks, not powder. Alternatively, put them in a food bag and crush them with the rolling pin.
  2. In a bowl, add the crushed biscuits, the dried coconut, and the butter and mix well.
  3. In a cake pan or a deep round-shaped baking pan, lay a sheet of parchment paper and spread the biscuit mix evenly while pressing the surface to prevent any air pockets from forming.
  4. In a cup, add the gelatine powder to a small amount of hot water and mix until dissolved. If you use gelatin sheets, first soften them in cold water, strain them with your hands, and then dissolve them in hot water.
  5. In a colander, strain the canned fruit. Keep the juice aside and chop the fruit into fine slices.
  6. In a bowl, whip the heavy cream with a hand mixer until smooth and fluffy.
  7. In a large bowl, add the yogurt, the vanilla, the sugar (or fructose), and the fruit juice and mix well. Add the gelatin and mix again. Let the mixture aside to cool and thicken.
  8. When the mixture starts thickening, add the fruit and mix. Add the whipped heavy cream and mix again. Let the mixture aside once more to cool and thicken.
  9. When the cream is thick enough, spread it evenly on the biscuit base in the pan. Cover the dessert with plastic wrap and leave it in the fridge overnight.
  10. The next morning, unwrap the cheesecake and serve it cool.

This fruity & crunchy dessert is an intriguing version of the ever-popular no-bake cheesecake. Thanks to the sheep yogurt-flavored body it takes us on a subtle trip to the Epirus highlands through an unexpected culinary path.

After cooking…

Inside the well-preserved walled city of Ioannina lies a small part of the once bustling neighborhood of the now almost defunct Romaniote Jews’ community. There, pilgrims and travelers can visit the most significant living monument of their centuries-long presence until their Nazi-led extinction. It’s the almost 200 years old Kahal Kadosh Yashan synagogue, one of the oldest and largest in Greece.

Ηπειρώτικο Πρωινό-After cooking…