Y’all know I like my bold flavors; if there is a dish that has an ingredient in the title, I want that flavor to be prominent.
If you google “strawberry cheesecake”, or “strawberry cheesecake recipe” you’ll get a ton of hits for a plain cheesecake with a strawberry topping. Maybe there will be 1-2 with a gentle swirl that was baked into it but you probably won’t get anything that looks like the photos you see here (although this Martha one comes a bit close!).
This is a strawberry cheesecake with a ton of strawberry in the filling itself. The strawberries are slow roasted so they soften, cook and their flavor intensifies.
To make these you pour your berries onto a tray and roast them in the oven for at least half an hour. As they bake the water evaporates and the sugars concentrate as does the flavor. For this recipe, I ask you to roast about 3-4 cups of berries to ensure we get 1 cup of puree, if you have leftover you can swirl it into the top of the cheesecake. If you have even more leftover, well it’s great on top of pancakes, french toast, ice cream, anything!
They will take about a half an hour to roast, mid-way you’ll want to use the back of a spoon to squish them. Once they are all soft and have released their juices, you’ll puree the berries. Don’t worry about the seeds yet, those will get taken out at a later stage.
Once your cookies are ground this is as simple as melting butter and stirring it with the crumbs and a bit of powdered sugar. It should hold together but not be overly greasy when you squeeze the mix. Press down on the crumb bits, to create an even layer. If you are making this as a round cake you’ll want to press some of the crumbs up the sides.
The most important part of this is having room temperature ingredients (especially the cream cheese). Press it to remove any lumps. Scrape down the bowl often to ensure all of the cream cheese gets mixed and there are no lumps (if there are still some hang on, we’ll get to them). Add the rest of the ingredients and combine well. The eggs go in last, and stop as soon as they are mixed in.
Bake in a water bath and low and slow, until only the center jiggles a bit.
Cheesecake is one of those baking projects that can easily fail. The cakes crack, sink, they over-bake, they can be gummy, or they can be lumpy. But, I have some tricks for getting us a perfectly creamy cheesecake:
I know you’ve read this a lot but it really does yield the best result. The two most important room temperature ingredients here are the cream cheese and the eggs. Take the blocks of cream cheese out at least 4 hours before you make the filling. Take the eggs out too but if you forget, set them in a bowl of warm water to come to room temp right before baking.
Use a stand mixer or even a food processor to make the filling; both machines are pretty good ad beating the cream cheese.
Since we are using a food processor here we need to be extra careful at the very last step when we add the eggs. They just need to be blended into the filling – this will happen in seconds, and if you overbeat them, the cake will sink in the center.
I am very anti-wrap-a-spring-form-pan in foil, so instead I use parchment paper (to lift lift out the cake when it’s done) and put the pan in a bigger cake pan filled with water. The water helps slowly and evenly bake the custard and the steam it releases prevents cracks.
A low temperature for about an hour, then let it cool in the oven. Cheesecake success is all about heating and cooling evenly and slowly.
Organic Strawberries: Fresh or frozen. Depending on how juicy your berries are, you might need to roast more or less berries. We want to end up with over a cup of puree. The color of the berries will also determine the hue and color of the final pie. The reason I specify organic here is because there are too many fresh and frozen conventional strawberries in the store that are well, huge and have zero flavor (like when you slice them open and they’re white). We don’t want that for the cheesecake because we want flavor!
Cream Cheese: Full fat. It should be at room temperature and they must be blocks (not whipped).
Sour Cream or Labneh: If you aren’t familiar with it, labneh is a thick yogurt from the Levant. I normally use sour cream in my cheesecakes but only had lebnah in my fridge the first time I made this and it worked like a dream.
Cookie crumbs: Graham or digestive. I know graham is the standard, but they aren’t my favorite. Digestives are a British cookie with stellar flavor and crumble. Here’s a source on amazon for them. I find them in the ‘international’ section of a lot of grocery stores. Buy a bunch because they also make a fabulous snack. Oreo crumbs can work too but you’ll need to remove the cream from inside (or reduce the amount of butter in the recipe.
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