Delicious dairy treats for Shavuot from a father and son

Marvin and Max Gelkopf

Marvin Gelkopf is a Toronto physician with a busy family practice who also happens to be an avid baker. His son Max shares his father’s passion, and together they run a recipe website.

Their expertise includes 22 kinds of cheesecake—from Cold Brew to Maple, Dulche de Leche to Key Lime, and ones made in an Israeli style.

In past years, Marvin and his wife, Carrie, would invite friends and family to their home on Shavuot. He’d bake 14 to 16 different cheesecakes for the dairy-based holiday, then cut them into small squares for sampling without too much sugar and fat.

This year, because of COVID, the couple are reducing their output. But family and friends can still grab their slabs from the curb.

Max Gelkopf laments missing the traditions. His own specialty is scones, and he’s developed many original recipes of his own.

But he also had to cut back on baking due to finishing up medical school. Soon, he’ll start a residency in ophthalmology.

Max’s pull-apart cheese loaf is ideal for Shavuot. He baked hundreds of loaves of bread as a fundraiser for Oochigeas, a camp for children with cancer. The cheese bread was popular with supporters of Camp Ooch.

Marvin, ever the family-medicine practitioner, offered some tips for making cheesecake more healthful.

In many recipes low-fat (not fat-free) cream cheese and sour cream can be substituted for the full fat equivalents.

Using a 9 x13-inch (23 x33-cm) baking pan instead of a round springform pan makes it easier to cut the cakes into smaller pieces, he added. However, it may be necessary to adjust the recipe by adding 20 per cent more ingredients to compensate for a change in the pan size. A shallower pan may also necessitate a different baking time. 

Marvin stressed the importance of regular exercise for baking enthusiasts: “If you work out, you can have your cheesecake and eat it, too.”   

Shavuot recipes below—Pull Apart Cheesy Loaf, Cold-Brew Cheesecake with Expresso Ganache (adapted from and Maple Cheesecake—can all be found at

Pull-apart cheesy loaf

¾ cup (180 ml) milk, warmed in microwave

¼ cup (60 ml) warm water

2 tbsp (30 ml) sugar

1 tbsp (15 ml) yeast

3¾ cup (830 ml) all-purpose flour

1 tsp (5 ml) salt

¼ cup (60 ml) butter, melted

1 egg

1 8-oz (250 g) block of cheddar cheese, thinly sliced

Shredded mozzarella to top

Optional – add Parmesan on top


¼ cup (60 ml) butter, melted

2 gloves garlic, minced

½ tsp (3 ml) dry oregano

Combine the warm water and milk in a bowl. Add the sugar and yeast and mix. Allow this mixture to sit for 10 minutes. 

In a stand mixer with paddle attachment combine 2 cups (500 ml) of the flour and salt. Add the butter and egg and mix well until crumbly. Add the yeast mixture, mix well and then add the remaining flour. Switch to a dough hook and knead for 6–8 minutes. Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl and allow it to rise for 1 hour covered (until the dough doubles).

In a parchment-lined and greased pan alternate between placing torn pieces of dough and cheese. Cover and allow the dough to rise for 1 hour. It can also be topped with additional shredded mozzarella.

Mix the topping ingredients in a bowl. Brush the dough with topping. Bake at 400°F (200°C) for 10 minutes, and then lower the heat to 350°F (180°C). Remove the lid of the Dutch oven (if using – see below) and bake for an additional 25 minutes.

Baking Options

1) Alternative: Bake at 375°F (190°C) for 40 minutes

2) Bake for the first 10 minutes in a Dutch oven to help contain the moisture and give the loaf a crispy top. (The Dutch oven can be preheated before putting the bread in).

Cheesy Pull Apart Bread

Cold-brew cheesecake with espresso ganache


2½ cups (625 g) chocolate baking or graham cracker crumbs

4 oz (116 g) unsalted butter, melted


24 oz (750 g) or 3 8-oz (250 g) bricks of light cream cheese at room temperature

1½ cups (375 ml) light sour cream

3 large eggs, room temperature

¾ cup (180 ml) pure maple syrup

½ cup (125 ml) cold brew concentrate

½ tsp (3 ml) kosher salt

¼ cup (60 ml) espresso liqueur

Coffee liqueur ganache:

2 cups (500 ml) semisweet chocolate chips

½ cup (125 ml) whipping/heavy cream

4 tbsp (60 ml) unsalted butter

2 tbsp (30 ml) espresso liqueur

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Line a 9×13-inch (23x 33-cm) baking pan with parchment paper sprayed with nonstick spray.

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, pulse together the baking/graham crumbs with the melted butter until moistened. Transfer the mixture to the baking pan and bake for 10 minutes. Remove the crust from the oven and lower the oven temperature to 325°F (165°C).

While the crust is cooling, in a cleaned food processor bowl fitted with the steel blade, combine the cream cheese, sour cream, eggs, maple syrup, cold brew, and salt. Process until smooth.

Transfer all but ½ cup (125 ml) of the batter to the baking pan. Add the expresso liqueur to the remaining batter and process until combined and smooth. Drizzle this mixture over the cake batter and swirl with a toothpick.

Place a small bowl of boiling water beside the baking pan in the oven (it acts like a water bath and reduces cracking) and bake for 35 minutes. Turn the oven off, but leave the door closed for 15 minutes and then prop the oven door open for 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and allow the cake to cool to room temperature. Place the pan in the fridge for 4–24 hours.

Ganache: In a double boiler combine the chocolate chips and heavy cream until smooth. Add the butter and espresso liqueur and stir until melted. Pour the ganache over the top of the cheesecake and allow it to set for 30 minutes in the fridge before serving. The ganache will cover any cracks in the cheesecake.

Cold Brew Cheesecake

Maple cheesecake

Maple Reduction:

2¼ cups (560 ml) pure maple syrup


2½ cups (625 ml) graham cracker crumbs

3 tbsp (45 ml) granulated sugar

½ tsp (3 ml) ground cinnamon

¾ cup (185 g) coconut oil or 4 oz (116 g) butter, melted


4½ 8-oz (250 g) bricks of light cream cheese at room temperature

¾ cup (185 ml) brown sugar

4½ tbsp (68 ml) unbleached, all-purpose flour

½ tsp (3 ml) kosher salt

1½ cups (375 ml) maple syrup reduction (see below)

1 cup (250 ml) low-fat sour cream

2 tsp (10 ml) pure vanilla extract

6 large eggs at room temperature

Maple Reduction: In a saucepan over medium, heat and simmer maple syrup until it is reduced to 1½ cups (375 ml). Allow to cool to room temperature before using in batter.

Crust: Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and cinnamon in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade and combine well.

Drizzle the coconut oil over the crumb mixture and pulse until the mixture resembles wet sand. Transfer this mixture to a 9-x13-inch (23x 33-cm) baking pan lined with parchment paper and sprayed with cooking spray. Bake for 10 minutes and allow to cool. Reduce the oven temperature to 300°F (150°C).

Filling: Cube the cream cheese and place in the cleaned food processor bowl. Process until creamy and smooth, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Add the sugar, flour, and salt and blend until smooth. Add the maple syrup reduction, sour cream and vanilla and process again. Add the eggs, 2 at a time, and process just until blended after each addition.

Pour the filling into the cooled crust. Bake in the oven beside a small glass bowl filled with boiling water (it acts like a water bath and reduces cracking). Bake in the preheated oven for 55 minutes. Then turn the oven off and prop open the door for 15 more minutes before removing the cake. Allow it to cool to room temperature before refrigerating for at least 4 hours or until ready to serve.