Shavuot, the Jewish festival that celebrates receiving the Torah on Mt. Sinai, has always been associated with having a dairy meal. The origins of the custom go back to antiquity, and there are several explanations for it. Some hold that milk symbolizes the purity and sweetness of the Torah; as milk is to babies, so the Torah is to the Jewish soul.
Others give a vivid picture of the gathering of the Jewish nation at the foot of Mt. Sinai, waiting for Moses to descend with the Tablets of the Law. Aware of their ignorance as to the laws of kashrut, and wishing to achieve as high a spiritual level as possible, the Jews refrained from eating meat all the 50 days from the Exodus to Shavuot.
But I’m afraid that there is no commandment to eat delicious, decadent, sweet treets like cheesecake (see our recipe) or the trifle described below. Oh, well. My advice is: elevate eating with a blessing, and enjoy.
Easy Trifle for Shavuot
yield: 12 servings
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
3 tablespoons brandy
250 grams – 1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 – 1/4 cup sugar, divided in half
700 grams – 3 cups soft cream cheese
200 grams – 1 package ladyfingers cookies, or other light cookie
1 cup mixed forest berries: currants, mulberries, raspberries, etc.
1 small basket strawberries or 1 thinly sliced nectarine, or 1/2 banana or other soft fruit
Boil together all the ingredients for syrup except the brandy. Simmer 5 minutes. Take off the heat and add the brandy. Set aside.
Whip the cream with half the sugar until light.
In a separate bowl, whip the cream cheese with the second half of the sugar for at least 7 minutes, until it’s light.
Fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese, mixing gently but thoroughly.
Dip the ladyfinger cookies into the syrup on both sides – a light dip, not to soak the cookies. Line the walls and bottom of your tray or serving bowl with the cookies, breaking some if needed to cover gaps in the container.
Pour about half the whipped mixture into the serving bowl, smoothing it lightly. Lay down another layer of ladyfingers dipped in syrup. Pour the remainder of the whipped mixture in and smooth again, lightly.
Garnish with fresh berries and fruit to your taste.
More Shavuot recipes on Green Prophet:
Photo of trifle by Miriam Kresh.