Winter might be coming to an end, but my heart is not yet filled with satisfaction for strawberries.
I better get something done before they go out of season.
When I first laid my hands on the strawberries this season, I wasn’t sure what should be done.
True, I could simply slice them up and layer them with dollops of fresh sweetened and whipped cream, perhaps in a Mason jar or better yet, in a crisp, golden brown tart shell.
Or I could simply pulverize those luscious red berries and macerate them in vodka to create strawberry flavoured vodka.
And yet, I decided to go against it. Fuck that shit, I’m gonna prepare a strawberry cheesecake.
One of the first cheesecakes I’ve ever had may have been a mango one, but man was I hooked onto cheesecakes. Looking at the strawberries in hand, I decided to go with a cheesecake flavoured with strawberries.
Fresh strawberries are one of the few things I love about winter. Their luscious red carmine hues, the sweetish tang when you take a bite – one taste, and it feels like I’m back in the refreshingly cool strawberry farms of Mahabaleshwar.
Around the year when strawberries aren’t in season, I use whole strawberry crush, or purée – whichever is available at hand. This version, however, includes fresh strawberry coulis.
The strawberries are cooked with a couple of bruised cardamom pods and sugar. The ruby red coulis is tart enough to offset the richness of the cream cheese, yet sweet enough to be distinct from a jar of strawberries and cream. I prefer to keep the strawberries a bit undercooked, so as to lend some texture to the generally smooth cheesecakes.
Fresh Strawberry Cheesecake
- Servings: 6 – 8
- Time: 50 minutes + chilling
- Difficulty: Easy
- 200g crackers/ digestive biscuits
- 50g butter + extra for greasing
- 250g strawberries
- 75g sugar
- 2 – 3 cardamom pods
- 200g cream cheese
- 125g icing sugar
- 100mL whipped cream
- 25g gelatin
- 5mL vanilla extract
- To a Ziploc bag, add the crackers/ biscuits and crush them using a rolling pin until they resemble coarse breadcrumbs.
- Clean the strawberries, finely dice them.
- Sieve the icing sugar so as to get rid of the lumps.
- Soak the gelatin, set aside.
- Line an 8″ springform tin[or whichever mould you have] with parchment paper. Grease the insides of the parchment with some softened butter.
- In a medium-sized saucepan, melt the butter. Add the crushed crackers/ biscuits to the melted butter, cook for a few seconds and remove from heat.
- Once cooled enough to a workable temperature, add the mixture to the lined springform tin.
- Using a flat-based cup or a spatula, spread the mixture evenly. Refrigerate until set.
- In a sauté pan, add the diced strawberries and sugar. Using the back of a spoon, bruise 2-3 cardamom pods, add to the strawberries.
- Cook until the mixture begins to thicken and darken. Take care that you don’t overcook the strawberries, or else they’ll become mushy.
- Once done, remove from heat and set aside to cool.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk the cream cheese and sifted icing sugar until light and smooth.
- Add the cooled strawberry coulis, mix well.
- In a small saucepan, melt the soaked gelatin gently over low heat. Once completely melted, add vanilla extract and set aside to cool.
- Using a spatula, fold in the whipped cream. If your whipped cream is too thick, give it a rigorous whisk.
- Gently pour in the melted gelatin, whisking continuously so as to avoid lumps.
- Pour the filling into the prepared springform tin. Refrigerate for 3 – 4 hours, or overnight.
Finish the cheesecake by topping it with some fresh strawberries dipped in coulis or a simple syrup. You can also garnish the cheesecake with lots of sliced strawberries. Cut and serve.
- I generally prefer to use round springform tins for cakes and cheesecakes. You might use square tins, or even sheet pans. Adjust the recipe accordingly.
- To increase the decadence of the cheesecake, I use butter cookies in the base. You may use whichever type of cookies/ biscuits you prefer. [I once used dark chocolate cookies.]
- Pressed for time and no cream cheese on hand? Use unflavored Greek yoghurt [or a berry-flavoured one, if available]. Tie it in a muslin cloth and get rid of excess moisture. Adjust the sugar accordingly.
- Save on time by using pre-whipped cream. If not, whip about 50-75mL of whipping cream until it doubles in volume and achieves soft peaks. Chill for 5-10 minutes before folding it into the cream cheese.
What Wine to Pair with?
Riesling [be careful of the acidity though]. Or Sherry. Strawberry Dessert Wines are also available these days.
What flavoured cheesecake do you prefer? Let me know in the comments.