Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Fresh Strawberry Cheesecake

It’s strawberry season! Well, at least it is here in northern Texas. We’ve been harvesting lots of luscious, red strawberries from our garden. Two nights ago, my husband and I canned 16 jars of strawberry jam. That’ll taste delicious on homemade bread and biscuits.

We’ve still got more strawberries to harvest in the next few days. I thought of a really good use for them: strawberry cheesecake!!! We do have company coming over in a couple days and I was trying to think of a dessert to serve to them. I’ve found my answer.

The photo above is of one of my strawberry cheesecakes that I made last year. This is what I make when I make strawberry cheesecake. This recipe has a shortbread crust, so it gives you a little different taste than the standard graham cracker crust. It has a sour cream topping, and I garnish it with fresh strawberries that have been dipped and drizzled with chocolate.

The cheesecake can be baked 2-3 days before serving, so that’s a great time-saver—especially if you are busy right before a dinner party. Furthermore, you can make this crust up ahead of time and put it in the freezer until right before you fill it. Of course, if you’re going to dip strawberries in chocolate, that is one step you’d probably want to save until the day of your party.

Here’s my recipe, just in case you’d like to make this cheesecake yourself:

Fresh Strawberry Cheesecake

¾ cup unsalted butter, softened (Salted butter burns more easily during baking.)
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 large egg yolk, beaten
½ tsp. vanilla extract
1 ¼ cups white flour

Cream butter and sugar together. Stir in vanilla and egg yolk and mix well. Blend in flour. Grease your hands with butter and spread about half this dough onto the bottom of a greased 10-inch springform pan. (As an alternative, I use an actual cheesecake pan from a bakery supply store. This has a flat, round bottom and makes a nicer 90-degree angle side for the cheesecake, in my opinion, than springform pans.) Bake in a 400 degree oven about 8-10 minutes, or until the edges of the crust brown slightly. Remove from oven and cool. Then grease the sides of the cheesecake pan with unsalted butter. Spread the rest of the dough about 1-inch up the side of the cheesecake pan. Then refrigerate (or freeze) the crust until ready to fill.

3 8-ounce pkgs. cream cheese, softened
1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 cup heavy whipping cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In large bowl, beat the cream cheese and sugar together until there are no lumps. Add vanilla extract and eggs (one at a time) and blend until smooth. Add the sour cream and whipping cream and beat until smooth. Pour into crust and bake in preheated oven for about an hour and 15 minutes (cheesecake will be poofed up, and sides will be brown). Turn off oven and let the cake cool in the open oven for about an hour. Allow to cool at room temperature about an hour. Then add topping (below).

1 pint sour cream
¼ cup granulated sugar (I use Baker’s Sugar, which is extra fine)
1 tsp. vanilla

Stir these three ingredients together until smooth. Spread evenly over the top of the cheesecake and bake in a 350 degree oven for about 5 minutes. Remove cake from oven and allow to cool on a wire rack. Then refrigerate until serving time.

To Garnish:
The day you plan to serve the cheesecake, remove sides of cheesecake pan. Rinse strawberries with water and lightly pat dry with a paper towel. Dip strawberries in chocolate. I use the same chocolate discs that I use for making mousse cups. If desired, drizzle with the opposite color chocolate. Arrange strawberries on top of cheesecake. As an alternative, you can dip strawberries in strawberry glaze (available in the produce section of the grocery store) or melted courant jelly. Keep cheesecake refrigerated until serving time.

Happy Cheesecake Making!


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