Lebneh is an Arabic breakfast staple, a creamy dip that is a cross between cream cheese and Greek yogurt. This dip is traditionally served with olive oil and pita bread for breakfast, but there are so many other uses for this rockstar dip! I came up with this recipe when I was expecting company and had nothing but lebneh and almond meal in the fridge. Lebneh surprises the taste buds with a tangy flavor, so I thought why not make a cheesecake with it? Here is one example of lebneh that I regularly buy if I don’t make it from scratch:
Lebneh also has the healthy addition of probiotics and is less processed than traditional cream cheese, meaning no carrageenan or other questionable fillers. The cheese part of this cake is more liquidy than traditional cheesecake before baking, so make sure you put the pie on a cookie sheet in case the filling leaks out. I knew I had little time to make a pie or tart crust, so the almond meal came in really handy as well, and added a beautiful flavor and satisfying crunch to this dessert. I also added ginger snaps to the crust but if you want a gluten free dessert you can omit them and add ¼ tsp powdered ginger instead. Coconut sugar is another staple in my house.
Because it is less processed, it has more magnesium and iron than traditional sugar, and is lower in the glycemic index. The bonus? Coconut sugar has the beautiful aroma of toasted graham cracker crumbs, adding more complexity to the flavor of the crust. The coconut sugar also gives the cheesecake a golden color, reminiscent of crème brulee. You can find lebneh in any Middle Eastern market, as well as Whole Foods. I found the coconut sugar at Costco, but they have it at Whole foods as well. My favorite almond meal is at Trader Joe’s. My facebook readers have expressed interest in this recipe–so here you go! I would love your feedback if you tried this at home, enjoy!
1 ½ cups almond meal
10 ginger snaps (or ½ tsp ginger if not using)
1/3 cup plus 1/2 cup coconut sugar (can use regular sugar too)
1/2 stick of butter, melted
1 tsp cinnamon
2 cups of lebneh (kefir cheese)
Juice of one lemon
2 tsp lemon zest
1 cup sliced strawberries, or raspberries
1/4 cup seedless raspberry or strawberry jelly
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine the ginger snaps, almond meal, 1/3 cup coconut sugar, and cinnamon together in the food processor until the consistency is of fine crumbs. Transfer the mixture into a bowl and add the melted butter—combine together then press into the bottom of a springform pan or a cake pan (make sure you butter the edges of the pan to prevent the cake from sticking) Set aside. Beat the eggs on high until frothy. Add lemon juice, zest, lebneh, ½ cup coconut sugar and mix on low until smooth. Add lebneh and stir by hand until fully incorporated. A few lumps are normal and okay. Pour cheese mixture onto the crust, then place tart on a cookie sheet in the oven and bake for about 45 minutes, or until the top is browned and the cheese is set. Let cool. In a small saucepan, melt the berry jelly. Drizzle over the finished cheese cake and add fresh berries if desired.