Strawberry cheesecake is perfect for Valentine's Day. Plus, the fact 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 wish the strawberries in the store at this time of year were a little redder and with a more robust strawberry taste, but it is close. However, 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.
Graham Cracker CrustJump to Recipe for Amounts
- Graham crackers - I use Pamela's Graham Crackers (link for Amazon, but check your local grocery store) because when they bake, they create a solid crust so you can carry your cheesecake just like a cookie.
- Almonds blanched
- Sugar white
- Butter unsalted
Cheesecake FillingJump to Recipe for Amounts
- Cream Cheese
- Sugar white
- Condensed milk
- Vanilla Extract
- Freeze-dried strawberries - I purchased these at Wegmans in Lancaster. But you can also buy from Amazon Natierra Organic Strawberries.
- Pink Coloring gel - I use Cake Craft coloring gel I purchased as a 12-piece pack of different colors.
Strawberry ToppingJump to Recipe for Amounts
- Fresh strawberries hulled
- Lemon juice
- Sugar white
- Corn starch
Making Strawberry Cheesecake
This is not a hard cheesecake to make, but it does need to chill overnight after it is out of the oven and cooled.
Graham Cracker Crust
You will need a food processor and an 8 X 8 baking dish. The first thing is to get the baking dish ready for the crust.
Line your baking dish with tin foil. You want two opposite sides to wrap over the sides so you can lift the whole cheesecake out of the pan the next day.
Add the almond slivers and the graham cracker to a food processor and pulse until it is like a fine grain.
Now add the cracker and almond mixture to a bowl. Next, add the melted butter and sugar and mix until the butter and sugar are incorporated and the graham crackers are moist from the butter.
Spread the cracker mixture over the tin-foiled bottom of the baking pan, and then press down to have a solid crust for your cheesecake. Set this aside, and now it is time to make the filling.
The stoneware square 8x8 pan I use I cannot find anymore. It was the Rachel Ray Cucina Stoneware 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 search Amazon, Overstock, eBay, or Wayfair, I found a few separate baking dishes, but I can not find the sets anymore.
Cheesecake Filling and Baking
First, take the bag of freeze-dried strawberries and crush them so they are mainly dust. I do this in a food processor. Some people put them into a strong baggie and pound them with a rolling pin or a meat tenderizer, but it is hard to get them as much like dust as when done in a food processor.
Even with a food processor, there will be some larger pieces. So I use a strainer to get rid of them. This will leave a fine powder of dried strawberries.
Add the cream cheese and sugar to a stand or handheld mixer bowl and blend the sugar and cream cheese on medium speed. Scrape the sides of the bowl and turn the mixer back on to a lower speed. Now add one egg and incorporate it before adding the second one.
Next, add the condensed milk, vanilla extract, and strawberry powder. After everything is mixed, add a drop of pink coloring gel if you like.
Now pour the cheesecake filling onto the pressed graham cracker crust. Even out the mixture, I gently shake the baking dish so that any air bubbles trapped will come to the surface.
Bake at 325° for 35 to 40 minutes. I check it at 35 minutes. You don't want the edges to get too brown. It will turn the whole cheesecake a brown color. It will also start to have cracks if baked too long. Give it a gentle jiggle, and it should only move slightly.
Pull the cheesecake out and let it cool before covering it with plastic wrap. You want the cheesecake to set overnight in the refrigerator. After about an hour in the fridge, I change the plastic wrap since it will have condensation along the underside of the wrap. You don't want water to drip onto the top of the cheesecake.
Now time to make the topping!
Grab a cutting board and a pairing knife after washing your strawberries.
Cut off the tops and hull the strawberries. Just take your knife and cut out the center of the strawberry. Cut the hulled strawberries into large chunks.
Add the strawberry chunks to a saucepan along with the lemon juice, cornstarch, and sugar, coat the strawberries, and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down and simmer the mixture. You want the cornstarch to cook out, so it is a lovely red and clear mixture. This could take about 6 to 15 minutes.
After it has thickened up, add the topping to a glass jar and let it cool down before adding a top and putting the jar into the refrigerator. I allow it cool and set overnight while the cheesecake also sets.
Take the cheesecake out of the refrigerator and the tinfoil that is hanging over the two sides, grab and pull the whole cheesecake straight up and out of the baking dish and onto a cutting board. With your hand under the whole cheesecake, start peeling the tin foil from the bottom of the cheesecake. It comes off pretty easily.
You can cut the cheesecake now and let your family and friends put on how much of the strawberry topping they want, or put the cheesecake on a platter and cut it into squares keeping the whole cut cheesecake tight and add the topping.
Cheesecake needs to be kept in the refrigerator after you are done serving. I cover it with plastic wrap and put the serving dish in the fridge if you have already added the topping. If you have the plain cheesecake without the topping, you can store them in a container with a lid in the fridge.
Try My Strawberry Cookies
Strawberry Cheesecake BitesBarbara Hall
- 7.5 ounces (212.62 g) Graham crackers
- ¼ cup (31.25 g) Almonds blanched
- 1 Tablespoon (1 Tablespoon) Sugar white
- ⅓ cup (75.67 g) Butter unsalted melted
- 16 ounces (453.59 g) Cream Cheese
- ¼ cup (50 g) Sugar white
- ½ cup (153 g) Condensed milk
- 2 (2 ) Eggs
- ½ teaspoon (0.5 teaspoon) Vanilla Extract
- 3 Tablespoon (3 Tablespoon) Freeze dried strawberry
- Optional small drop of Pink Coloring gel
- 16 ounces (453.59 g) Fresh strawberries
- 1 Tablespoon (1 Tablespoon) Lemon juice
- ¼ cup (50 g) Sugar white
- 1 Tablespoon (1 Tablespoon) Corn starch
- I take the whole box of graham crackers and pulse them in a food processor to get them very crumbly. Then, I add the blanched almonds and turn the pulse on 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 until the graham cracker mix is moist. Next, line an 8 x 8 baking dish with tin foil. I do one piece of tin foil and mold it up all four sides with two opposite sides hanging out over the edge of the baking dish. These will be used as handles to lift the cheesecake out of the pan. Now add the crust mixture and press the crust evenly around the whole bottom.
- Preheat the oven to 325°
- In a food processor, add the freeze-dried strawberries and pulse them until they are powder. Then, I run the powder through a strainer to get any big pieces that remain.
- In a stand mixer, add both cream cheese and sugar, blending on medium speed until 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 mix into the cream cheese before adding the second egg.
- Scrape the sides again to ensure the egg and cream cheese are mixed. Next, add the freeze-dried strawberries, vanilla extract, and 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. Mix until 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 might be 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.
STRAWBERRY SAUCE TOPPING
- Hull and cut up the strawberries, adding them to a small saucepan. Add the lemon juice, cornstarch, and sugar and stir to coat the strawberry chunks. 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 to 15 minutes for the juice in the mixture to turn more of clear red 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 topping, not only cheesecake but also ice cream.
- Take the cheesecake out of the refrigerator. Grabbing the tinfoil hanging over the two sides, gently lift the cheesecake out of the pan and onto a cutting board. I put my whole hand under the bottom and peel the tinfoil from the crust. Even though the crust is dense, try not to bend the cheesecake; it will break.
- Cut into squares and put the pieces on a plate. Add the strawberry topping to the top of the cheesecake and serve. You could also have the strawberry topping on the side so family and friends can add their own.