- 16 oz (2 blocks) Graham crackers
- 1/4 cup Almonds blanched
- 1 TBSP Sugar white
- 1/3 cup melted Butter unsalted
- 16 oz (2 blocks) Cream Cheese
- 1/4 cup Sugar white
- 1/2 cup Condensed milk
- 2 Eggs
- 1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
- 3 TBSP (crushed into dust) Freeze dried strawberry
- Optional small drop of Pink Coloring gel
- 1 lb (hulled) Fresh strawberries
- 1 TBSP Lemon juice
- 1/4 cup Sugar white
- 1 TBSP Corn starch
Strawberry cheesecake is perfect for this time of year. Plus the fact that I am a cheesecake hound. I love finding new favors to put together with cream cheese. The creaminess of the cream cheese complementing the fruits is just heaven to me.
I do wish the strawberries in the store at this time of year were a little redder and with a stronger strawberry taste, but it is really close. Adding the freeze-dried strawberries does help to bring out a little more flavor. Nuts.com sells all kinds of freeze-dried fruit, including strawberries.
The stoneware square 8×8 pan I use I can not find anymore. It was the Rachel Ray Cucina collection that I got a set for myself and both of my daughters. I love them, they are easy to clean and I have had my set for 9 to 10 years. If you do a search on Amazon, Overstock, or Wayfair I found a few separate baking dishes but I can not find the sets anymore.
Of course, the only cream cheese that ever comes into this home is Philadelphia Cream Cheese Original. Growing up in Pennsylvania might have a little to do with it.
Things I Use:
I have found that the dense graham crackers from Pamela's Honey Grahams work the best if you want these bites solid enough to pick up and eat. I take the whole box and pulse them in a food processer to get them very crumbly. I add the blanched almonds to give the crust a little almond taste. I usually turn the pulse on straight for about a minute to ensure they are tiny pieces. Add this to a bowl and sprinkle the sugar on top, then add the melted butter and mix till the graham cracker mix can be pressed together between your finger and thumb—Line an 8x8 baking dish with tin foil. I do one piece of tin foil and mold it up two sides and hang out over the other two sides' edge. Press the crust evenly around the bottom.
Preheat the oven to 325°
In a food processor, add the freeze-dried strawberries and pulse till they are dust. You can also put them into a baggie that seals and, using a rolling pin, roll over them till they are dust. Either way, I run them through a strainer to get any big pieces out.
In a stand mixer, add both cream cheese and sugar, blending on medium speed till totally mixed. I stop the mixer and scrape down the sides and across the bottom. Breaking one egg into a small dish to ensure no eggshells. Add one egg at a time and make sure one egg is mixed into the cream cheese before adding the second egg. Scrape down the sides again to make sure the egg and cream cheese are mixed. Add the freeze-dried strawberries, vanilla extract, condensed milk, Now at this point; you have a choice. The freeze-dried strawberries do not keep their pink color very well during the baking. If you want a more pink color, you can add a tiny dot of pink coloring gel. A little goes a long way with coloring gel. I did not add the coloring gel but after the bake, I wish I would have. Mix till incorporated.
Taking the bowl off the stand, pour the cheesecake mixture onto the crust. I gently shake the pan just so any air bubble that is trapped has a chance to come to the surface. Bake at 325° for 35-40 minutes. Check on it at 35 minutes. It should just be a little golden around the edges. When you shake the baking pan, there should be only a slight jiggle. Pull it out of the oven and let it cool on the counter for at least half an hour. Cover with plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator overnight.
Hull and dice your strawberries and add them to a small saucepan. Add the lemon juice, cornstarch, and sugar stir to coat the diced strawberries. Over medium-high heat, bring the mixture to a boil, then turn down the heat, so it is still simmering and not a full boil. This can take anywhere from 6 minutes to 15 minutes for the juice in the mixture to turn more of red clear color and thicken up. You want to cook out the dull color from the cornstarch. I put mine into a mason jar to cool. This is a great sauce for topping not only cheesecake but ice cream also.
Put it all together.
Take the cheesecake out of the refrigerator, and the tin foil hanging over the opposite sides of each other pull up, gently lifting the whole cheesecake out of the pan. The tin foil will come off easily from the bottom. Even though the crust is dense, try not to bend the cheesecake; it will break. Cut into as big squares as you want and put the pieces on a plate that will hold it and add the strawberry sauce to the top and serve. You could also have the strawberry sauce on the side that they can add their own on top of their piece.