Thursday, March 15, 2012

Strawberry Cheesecake

A lot of people who know me know that I love to bake, and a lot of the people in Auckland (especially at Matt's work) have tasted, and luckily, like my baking. Because of this, I get a lot of people asking if I will make birthday cakes and the sort. I of course, cannot say no, because it is another excuse to whip out my apron and whisk, and its another goodie to post on my blog. I thoroughly enjoy baking for others and love it when they enjoy it so much that they come back asking for more. I am finally feeling like I can start to have a little bit of creativity in my baking, and that I am finding that I have more confidence in the stuff I make. I can make harder recipes and it isn't as hard as it used to be.

This cheesecake is a prime example of me venturing into harder recipes. I wouldn't say that I used my own creativity with this, but it was a little bit of a harder recipe, and I was pretty darn proud of the outcome. I found this recipe at Annie's Eats, where I tend to find a lot of recipes. Some of the recipes on there can be quite difficult, or as in this case, take a very long time to make and cool, but boy are they worth it in the end! 

The base was made with ground almonds, butter and sugar, which then got baked all by its lonesome to become crispy, golden and perfect. The recipe called for raw unskinned almonds, to boil and soften, and process in a food processor. I am sure they would taste very amazing this way, but there is nothing that resembles a food processor in my kitchen (on the wish list), so luckily, I was able to find that the supermarket did it for me. Thank you New World!

It will look like this once done baking.

I forgot to take a picture of me making the filling, and I also forgot to take a picture of the finished puree, so go ahead and insert *imagination* here, and we can move on. Thank you. The puree was made with frozen, but thawed, strawberries, lemon juice and sugar. Squeeze as much juice out of the thawed strawberries and add to saucepan. Then add the sugar and bring to a simmer. Once the sugar has dissolved and it is at a simmer, add the lemon juice and the remaining strawberries. Transfer to a blender to mix to a puree, or like me, buy a cheap stick blender, and mix it straight in the saucepan, but off the heat. Take whichever path you wish, knowing that mine brings along a few laughs. But don't worry, I wont judge. Too much.

For the cheesecake filling, you mix cream cheese and sugar, then eggs, vanilla and salt until combined, finishing off with sour cream (yes another sweet recipe with sour cream- you NEED to try this!), and the strawberry puree. The recipe called for only 2/3 cup of the puree, but I added the entire batch that I made, and I am happy I did, because it didn't have enough of that strawberry taste at first. But again, add what you think is right for yours.

The puree should be a very light pink color.

Add the filling to the pan, over the base, but not before double wrapping in foil. This will get put into a water bath and baked for an hour.

Again, I need you to insert your imagination, and pretend that after an hour in the oven, I took a picture of myself making ganache and adding to the top of the almost set cheesecake. The ganache had chocolate, cream/heavy whipping cream and half of a large beaten egg. This got added carefully to the top of the cheesecake, still in the water bath and placed back in the oven for a further 15-20 minutes, or until the outsides of the ganache was set. Once that is done, you want to take the cheesecake out of the water bath, place (still wrapped in foil) on a wire cooling rack and cover with a large bowl and let cool to room temperature. This will take a while, so don't be silly like me and bake the cheesecake later at night. Once it is cool enough, take the foil off, but keep in the pan and place in the refrigerator for 8 hours. I cannot explain the agony I experienced, wanting so badly to look at the cheesecake, but I tell you, I am glad I resisted the temptation. I couldn't imagine what would have happened had I looked too early. Resist the temptation like I did, and let it sit overnight, so you don't have to think too much about it.

Once it is entirely cooled and set after 8 hours, you can finally take it out of the springform pan and see your beautiful creation. I promise you will be as excited that you made such a beauty as I was! I mean, its not even decorated, and the chocolate a little discolored due to condensation, but I still want to dig in right there! My ganache is not as perfect as Annie's. Oh how I wish it was. Hers did not have holes. Mine did. But at the end of the day (or lunch when it was actually cut into), everyone enjoyed the cheesecake. That is all that matters at the end of lunch. Or dinner. Or whenever you choose to eat yours. There will be time to perfect these things, and I plan to one day. That is all I'm saying on the subject.

Don't pay attention to the holes or the condensated chocolate, just look at the beauty of this beast.

Fruit assembled on the top. Covering the mistakes. But that part isn't important. Right, I am really done talking about imperfections now. I really was very proud of this creation, and even more proud when people cut into it and exclaimed how happy they were to eat this. One person mentioned to me later, when he learned I made it (guess I don't usually make things this perty), that he was afraid to tell me he liked it, because he thought it came from a store, and didn't want to offend me by saying it was good! Good compliment I suppose!
I slightly adapted this recipe from Annie's Eats strawberry cheesecake, and by slightly, I really mean slightly.


strawberry puree:

-280g/10oz/1 1/4c frozen strawberries, thawed
-2Tbsp sugar
-juice of 1/2 lemon

almond crust:
-2c ground almonds
-3Tbsp sugar
-1/4tsp salt
-4Tbsp butter, room temperature

cheesecake filling:
-500g/17.5oz (or two packets) cream cheese, room temperature
-1c sugar
-3 large eggs, room temperature
-1 1/2tsp vanilla
-1/4tsp salt
-350ml/12oz/1 1/2c sour cream, room temperature
-entire strawberry puree mixture

-115g/4oz dark cooking chocolate, finely chopped
-130ml/4 1/2oz/1/2c +2Tbsp cream/heavy cream
-1/2 of 1 large egg, beaten

-For the crust, combine the butter, ground almonds, salt and sugar until well combined. Press into the bottom of a springform pan. Bake in an oven at 400F/200C for 15-20 min, until golden. Take out to cool while you make the puree and filling. Reduce the oven temperature to 350F/180C.

-For the puree, take the thawed strawberries and place in mesh sieve over a bowl to collect excess juice. Press on the strawberries to get as much juice as you can. Place this collected juice into a small saucepan placed over medium-high heat. Let simmer until reduced by half. Add in the sugar and stir until sugar dissolved. Blend in the lemon juice and remaining strawberries. Remove from heat and place mixture in a blender or use a stick blender to puree. Set aside.

-For the filling, blend softened cream cheese and sugar until smooth, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, and mix until thoroughly combined. Blend in the salt and vanilla, and scrape down sides if needed. Finish off by mixing in the room temperature sour cream and the entire batch of the strawberry puree until well combined.

-Wrap the springform pan very well in a double layer of foil, and add the cheesecake filling, almost to the top. Leave about 1/2-3/4 inch room at the top, as it will rise a little bit, and you want room for the ganache at the end. Place the springform pan, covered with foil, into a large water bath and bake for 55 min, until the filling starts to set. Be careful when pulling this out. The water will be boiling.

-Keeping the pan in the water bath and maintaining the oven temperature, pull out the cheesecake and set aside while you make the ganache (or you can make the ganache toward the end of the 55 min).

-For the ganache, put a small saucepan over heat and place in the cream; bring to a boil. Place chopped chocolate in a small bowl. Pour over the heated cream, let sit for a minute, then stir until smooth. Whisk in the beaten egg. Spread this mixture over the cheesecake, being very careful, and making sure to not pour in one spot. The cheesecake is still very delicate. Smooth out the top of the ganache and place the water bath back in the oven and bake for a further 15-20 minutes, until the outsides of the ganache are set.

-Remove from water bath, and place on a cooling rack, still covered in foil. Place a large bowl over the cheesecake to allow to cool slowly to room temperature (this will take a long time). Once fully cooled, remove bowl and foil, and place, still in springform pan, into the refrigerator, and let set for 8 hours. Remove the outside of the springform pan, decorate with fruit, and cut with a hot knife, wiping and reheating after each slice with a cup of hot water. Serve cold.

Here is the printable recipe

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  1. I am so going to make this, I love cheese cake and have never made a chocolate one. The fruit on the top looks goregous! Actually it looks stunning! Well done! I love it!

  2. You are exceptional honey! And so is that cheesecake! You really blew me away with that one, it looks so professional! Carla I know you are capable of anything and I am so proud of you. I can't wait to see what you make next!

  3. Oh my goodness, what a beautiful piece of heaven! So amazing! Love watching you come into your own little world. You are gonna be famous! And now this shows up as item #153148 on! WooHoo!

  4. Too pretty to eat. But of course, I've gotta try. The palate had me convinced to really take a big, big bite!

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