Bright, sweet, fruity strawberry defines the delicious-ness of the this Strawberry Cheesecake.
This would be delicious any time of the year, especially when strawberries are in season but I can assure you – it was a very bright spot when imported strawberries started showing up on our grocery shelves mid-winter!
Strawberry Cheesecake makes me think of New York Cheesecake which permeates the dessert menus of Montreal delis. Much as I love New York Cheesecake they are so dense and calorie laden that this slightly lighter cheesecake is a nice alternative. Not quite so dense-stick-to-the-roof-of-your-mouth as New York Cheesecake.
Chef’s Tips for Strawberry Cheesecake
- One of the secrets to the top of the cheesecake not splitting is not to overbeat the cream cheese mixture. Overbeating adds air and the ‘fluffiness’ increases the chance of collapse/splitting.
- Another is not to introduce major changes in temperature. So no peaking during baking until it is time to check for doneness. After baking is complete crack the oven door and allow cheesecake to sit about 1 hour before removing to the counter.
- The third tip is not to overbake the cheesecake. The center should be just slightly wobbly when it is done baking.
- Superfine sugar is used so it dissolves in to the mixture and produces a silkier texture. Since we are working hard not to overmix the cream cheese mixture the superfine sugar is worth seeking out. If you don’t have it or don’t want to buy specialty sugar just whisk your regular sugar in your blender or food processor. You don’t want it to turn to the powdery texture of icing sugar but you will see a definite change in the fineness of the granular sugar.
- Use room temperature cream cheese and eggs. This will help it mix faster and more evenly- avoiding overbeating.
- The jury is out on to water-bath or not to water-bath. Some bakers swear by it others say it is not necessary if you are paying attention to not overbeating or overbaking and no drastic temperature changes. Some suggest a pan of water on the rack below the cheesecake to create a moist environment and prevent the top from setting too quickly; an insulated baking ring may keep the edges from cooking faster than the center. My cheesecake did not crack and I didn’t use a water bath. So you decide how important the no cracking issue is to you.
- 2 1/4 cups graham crumbs 300 grams
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted 180 grams
Cream Cheese Filling
- 2 8 oz cream cheese
- 2 Tbsps flour
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1 1/2 cups superfine sugar (substitute regular sugar pulsed till fine in food processor or blender)
- zest of 1 lemon
- 2 eggs room temperature
- 1 lb strawberries
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
- 2 Tbsp water
- Preheat oven to 320°. Spray a 9" spring form pan. Cut parchment paper to line the bottom and the sides. Press the parchment paper against the bottom and sides using the spray to make it stick.
- Melt the butter and stir into the graham crumbs. Press the graham crumb mixture evenly across the bottom and up the sides of the pan.
- Cut the cream cheese into cubes. Beat on medium high about 4 minutes. Add the flour and beat just until incorporated, about 5 seconds. (Do not over beat. The aeration is what causes the cheesecake to crack while baking.)
- Add the vanilla, sour cream, sugar and lemon zest. Beat until just mixed (about 10 seconds).
- Add the eggs one at a time and beat about 5 seconds after each addition.
- Pour the cheese mixture into the crust base.
- Bake about 55 minutes. The center make slightly jiggle when gently shaken but be starting to turn golden brown.
- Crack the oven door and allow the cheesecake to cool about 30 minutes. Transfer to refrigerate for 4 hours.
- For the topping, hull the strawberries. Halve half of them and dice the rest.
- Bring the chopped strawberries, vanilla, sugar and lemon juice to a simmer in a large saucepan. Simmer 10 minutes.
- Mix the cornstarch and water, add to the saucepan and stir thoroughly. Cook a bit till mixture starts to thicken. Add the halved strawberries and cook 1 minute more.
- The sauce should be syrupy. If it is too thick add a bit of water so it will be thick but able to drip down the sides of the cheesecake when cut.
- Remove from stove and allow to cool. Topping will thicken more as it cools.
- When cool pour the topping over the top of the cooled cheesecake. Do not let it spill over the top edge of the cheesecake. Turn the halved strawberries cut side down in a circular arrangement on top of cheesecake. (You will have additional sauce that you will refrigerate and pass with the cut cheesecake.) Refrigerate with topping 2 hours.
- To serve, remove sides of springform pan. Slide the cheescake off the base of the pan onto a serving platter. Gently run an offset spatula between the crust and the parchment to loosen the parchment. Gently pull the parchment paper out from under the cheesecake.
- Cut and serve with additional strawberry sauce.