Ruh roh, folks. Look what we did. I mean, look what somebody did. Yeah, somebody else. We wouldn’t do this to you. Never.
Somebody went and made cheesecake. Again.
We must find this person and….and, well…we must chastise them most profusely and then we… we must hug them.
You know you do it, too. Yes. No. Yes. NO. YES! You want it, but you don’t want yourself to want it. Cheesecake is one of those love/hate deals. Probably more love for me, but I honestly struggled with whether or not to make this thing. Oops, outed myself there, didn’t I? I confess, I did it. I made this wonderful, creamy, perfect dessert. And I debated making it right up till I put it in the oven. For one thing – it’s pretty much summer in the south and that means no prolonged cooking in the oven. Not unless you want to be miserable. Or you could look at the payoff, too, I suppose.
Payoff like this.
Also, of course, cheesecake isn’t really good for you. I mean, I guess I’m not trying to get you ready for swimsuit season or anything. Sorry about that!
But something about this dessert makes me say: Oh well. My taste buds appreciate it. Oh, they so do.
I knew when we made Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake that I’d need to revisit the recipe again. Because cheesecake is all about need, isn’t it? That’s how I was feeling a few weeks ago, like I needed that perfect creaminess and strawberry combination. It just brings me to such a happy state.
It wasn’t easy making a cheesecake by myself. Well, let me rephrase – it wasn’t easy to make one and take adequate pictures to share with all of you. It’s not often you can take a good picture one-handed. So we’re a little short on images today, but you’ve just got to believe me when I say how happy this dessert made me.
I’m glad I went with my intuition and spent the time to make it. Yes, I could’ve gone to Barnes and Noble and bought a piece of Cheesecake Factory cheesecake – mmm mmm mmm! – but there is always a certain something that makes a cheesecake I’ve baked myself that much sweeter.
Strawberry Swirl Cheesecake
adapted from Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake with Cranberry-Raspberry Compote from Bon Appétit Desserts
For the strawberry puree (from The Joy of Baking):
- 1 – 20 ounce bag of frozen unsweetened strawberries or 20 ounces of fresh strawberries
- 1/4 – 1/3 cup granulated white sugar, or to taste
- Freshly squeezed lemon juice, optional
For the crust (from this recipe):
- 20 whole graham cracker (10 ounces total), broken
- 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, diced
- 1/2 cup packed golden brown sugar
For the filling:
- 4 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1/2 cup whipping cream
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
To make the strawberry puree:
Place the unsweetened frozen strawberries in a large bowl and thaw. This may take a few hours. Once thawed, put the strawberries and their juice in the bowl of a food processor or blender and process the berries until they are pureed. Pour the puree into a 2 cup measuring cup. You should have about 1 1/4 cups of puree. Add 1/4 cup of the sugar to start and stir until the sugar dissolves. Taste and add more sugar if needed. You can also add a little lemon juice to taste.
Optional: Using a mesh sieve or strainer, a few spoonfuls at a time and over a bowl, push the sauce through the mesh with the back of a large spoon. This will take out the strawberry seeds if you don’t want them in the sauce. Repeat until all the sauce has been strained. Refrigerate until ready to use or overnight.
To make the crust:
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Wrap foil around outside of 10-inch-diameter springform pan with 3-inch-high sides. Combine graham crackers, butter and sugar in processor. Using on/off turns, blend until crumbs begin to stick together. Press crumbs onto bottom and 2 3/4 inches up sides of springform pan. Bake crust 10 minutes. Transfer to rack and cool while preparing filling. Maintain oven temperature.
To make the filling:
Position rack in center of oven. Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese in large bowl until fluffy. Beat in sugar. Beat in eggs 1 at a time. Mix in sour cream, whipping cream and vanilla.
Transfer 1/3 of filling to prepared crust. Dollop 4-5 small spoonfuls of strawberry puree atop filling and swirl it through with a knife to distribute the puree into the filling. Repeat layering of filling and and puree 2 more times. Using knife again, swirl puree through filling, creating marbled design on the top layer. Try to make this swirling a more decorative effect. (If you don’t achieve it, don’t worry, it’ll still taste wonderful.)
Place springform pan in large roasting pan. Pour enough boiling water into roasting pan to come halfway up sides of springform pan. Bake until cheesecake puffs around edges, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Turn off oven. Let cake stand in oven 1 hour, leaving oven door ajar.
Transfer cake to rack. Run knife around pan sides to loosen cake. Cool completely. Remove foil from pan sides. Cover cake and chill overnight. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Keep refrigerated.)
Remove pan sides. Serve cake with remaining strawberry puree. Enjoy!
You’ll notice that my cheesecake cracked – eh, how embarrassing!
OK, not really. Sure, they’re prettier when they don’t crack, but cracking doesn’t affect the taste. It will still taste wonderful.
If you don’t want to swirl the strawberry sauce throughout the cheesecake, then don’t! This makes a wonderful plain cheesecake as well, or try a different topping if you desire. Blueberries, raspberries, cherries – there are plenty of options.
MAKE SURE when you line the outside of your pan with foil that you do this adequately, coming as much up the side of the pan as possible. This is obviously to prevent the water bath from seeping into your cake. If it does, your cake is, well, screwed.
BE SURE you let your cake cool 100% completely on a rack on the counter before covering it and refrigerating. If it is still at all warm, it will create condensation on your cake, and the crust will be a little soggy. This still isn’t enough to keep the cheesecake from tasting good, but an ideal one served to guests wouldn’t have this problem. Be patient and let it cool.