A super creamy cheesecake made with roasted and pureed strawberries for a concentrated strawberry flavor that can’t be missed!
If you follow this blog, you know that I like bold flavors, and if there is a dish that has an ingredient in the title, I want that flavor to be prominent. So, when I make a poppyseed cake, I make the poppiest cake. When I make a poppy bread, I make the poppiest bread. When you say chocolate babka, I say DOUBLE chocolate babka.
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 one 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, and I also added a gentle swirl – for looks mostly, but it also intensifies the flavor a bit. Both strawberry parts of this come from one source: roasted berries.
Slow Roasted Strawberries for Strawberry Cheesecake
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!
How to achieve a creamy strawberry cheesecake texture
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. Ugh, it almost makes it not worth it. But, I have some tricks for getting us a perfectly creamy cheesecake:
Room temperature ingredients: 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 food processor: This is to pulse the cream cheese so absolutely no lumps remain. I used to use my hand mixer to make cheesecake but I always, always ended up with lumps. A food processor was the perfect fix. I just make the whole filling in the food processor now.
Don’t overbeat the eggs: 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.
Bake it in a water bath: My lazy self is 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.
Bake it slowly, and let it cool even slower: 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.
Ingredients for Roasted Strawberry Cheesecake
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 (mine were hand-picked from a local farm and very red!).
Cream Cheese: It should be at room temperature and they must be blocks (not whipped). Philadelphia cream cheese is probably best (because it’s firmer) but I can’t always find it and often just buy generic brands which work fine.
Labneh: If you aren’t familiar with it, labneh is a thick yogurt from the Levant. Arabs eat it as a dip and we put it on, well everything savory. I normally use sour cream in my cheesecakes but only had lebnah in my fridge the day I made this and it worked like a dream. If you can’t find it/don’t want to buy, sour cream is a fine sub.
Digestive Cookies: 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!
Notes on Strawberry Cheesecake:
Berries: Use berries that are dark and a bit soft, the kind have been sitting in the fridge too long and you probably wouldn’t want to eat fresh. You can use frozen here too, be aware that there’s more water frozen onto those so the taste might be a bit diluted. When I use frozen I tend to add about 2 tablespoons of strawberry powder (from ground freeze dried strawberries) to intensify the flavor.
Flavor variety: When you roast the berries you can also throw in some rhubarb to add some tang. One stalk, chopped up would be enough.
Doneness: the cheesecake is done when it’s set on the sides and just a bit jiggly in the center. Don’t over-bake it!
Roasted Strawberry Cheesecake
Super creamy cheesecake made with roasted strawberries for an intense berry flavor.
1cuproasted strawberry puree240g (see instructions for how to make)
1tablespoonfreshly squeezed lemon juice
1-3teaspoonspure vanilla extractdepending on taste
½teaspoonfine sea salt
2tablespoonsall purpose flour
Roasted strawberry puree: preheat oven to 350 F. Place 4 cups of strawberries in a 13 x 9” cake pan and roast for 30-45 minutes, stirring every 15-20 minutes until the berries have released all their juices and the water has evaporated (should still be lots of liquid, don’t let it evaporate or let the berries burn). Puree the berries in a food processor and pour through a mesh sieve to remove seeds. Measure out 1 cup or 240g. This can be made ahead of time.
Prep the pan: Line a 8×8” cake pan with two parchment slings.
Make The Crust: Stir together the cookie crumbs, sugar, salt and melted butter. Press the crust into the bottom of the pan, using a measuring cup to pack it in. No need to put crust up the sides.
Make the filling: In a food processor or using a stand or hand mixer, beat the cream cheese and sugar on high until very smooth, stirring and scraping down to ensure no bits remain. Add 1 cup of the strawberry puree, labneh, vanilla, salt and lemon juice and beat until well combined. Add the eggs and flour and process on low until just combined – don’t over do this step, be as careful as you can so as not to overmix the eggs.
Preheat the oven to 325 F. Pour the filling over the crust. Add teaspoons of the remaining strawberry puree in dollops on top. Swirl with a butterknife or an offset spatula.
Place the pan in a 13×9” cake pan and surround it with hot water (the water should come up to the level of the cheesecake). Bake the cheesecake for an hour, until set. Then, shut the oven off but stick the bottom of a wooden spoon to prop the oven door open just a bit. Let the cheesecake come to room temperature in the oven.
Refrigerate overnight and serve the next day. Store in the fridge.
Color will depend on your berries: if your berries are very dark, you'll have a bright pink pie. If your berries are white inside, it will be very pale. In these cases I like to add some strawberry powder to darken the color and intensify the berry flavor. This can also be made in an 8 or 9" round cake pan: grease and line it with parchment paper (use metal clips to hold the paper in place). The bake time will need to be a bit longer, aim for 1 hour 15.