Thursday, 17 June 2010

Cheesecake, with Strawberries In This Case

I have two recipes for cheesecake; one for a decadent creation with loads of rich cream cheese and full-fat sour cream, and this one, which is a fair bit less decadent and which I actually make once every few years. I use a low-fat cheese for this, and the one time I used a non-fat cheese it ended up with a rather gritty texture, so better to use the low-fat cheese although I don't doubt that full-fat cheese would work just fine. I also use my own home-made graham crackers for the crust.

Chilling the cheesecake will let it cut nicely. I made mine at the last moment so it didn't cut as smoothly as I would have liked, but nobody but me really notices these things. Still, if you can, it's best to make it a bit in advance of when you need it.

I've been making this as the plain recipe for years, but I decided to try it with strawberries added this time. They're actually the last of last years frozen berries. Got to make room for this years! We had a few fresh ones from our garden to garnish it with as well. They're starting to show up, hurray! Almost time to do my annual strawberry rant. (Or you could just go read the last three years. This years is gonna be the same.)

It is quite easy to cut this in half. (Half of 3/4 cup is 6 tablespoons.) Just use an 8" pan, and it should be baked in an hour. I'm also vague about what kind of flour to use here. I've used wheat (pastry) flour in the past. This time I used half rice flour and half arrowroot, which worked fine, and which means that if you could fine a gluten-free biscuit to use for the crumbs, this could be gluten-free. I imagine this would also work well with other berries. Raspberries (mmm, raspberries) come to mind, for example.

12 servings
2 hours - 45 minutes prep time

Make the Crust:
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line an 11" springform pan bottom with parchment paper, and butter the sides.

Mix the graham cracker crumbs with the melted butter, and press them evenly over the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for about 10 minutes, until firm. Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F.

Make the Filling:
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
the zest of 1 lemon
4 large eggs
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1 kg (2.2 pounds) pressed cottage or ricotta cheese
1 cup buttermilk

Put the sugar, flour and salt into a large mixing bowl, and grate in the lemon zest. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Beat in the lemon juice, a few tablespoons at a time, until well amalgamated. (Don't dump it in all at once - the acid in the lemon juice may curdle the eggs otherwise.)

If your cheese tends to be gritty or lumpy in texture, whizz it through the food processor with the buttermilk until it is smooth. Best to do this in 2 or 3 batches! Mix the cheese and buttermilk into the sugar and egg mixture until smooth.

Pour the filling over the baked crust, and smooth it out. Bake for about 1 hour, 15 minutes, until just set in the middle. Let the cheesecake cool, then chill for 4 hours to overnight until well set.

Berry Variation:
OMIT the buttermilk
2 cups crushed, hulled strawberries (or other berries)
4 tablespoons arrowroot

Mix the filling as described above, omitting the buttermilk. Whizz the strawberries and arrowroot in the food processor until you have small chunks of strawberries in an otherwise smooth sauce free of arrowroot lumps. You can fold this into the entire filling before putting it over the crust, or you can put in half the plain filling then mix the strawberries with the remaining filling. Swirl this second, strawberried half of the filling with the plain half to create a marblized effect. Again, bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes until firm and cool and chill, as above.

Make the Sauce:
2 cups hulled strawberries
1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons arrowroot

Very easy. Mix the above in a pot and heat over medium heat. Stir regularly. Stop once the strawberries are soft and the sauce is thick and clear. Let cool, and spoon over the cheesecake slices as you serve them.

Last year at this time Bacon & Mushroom Warm Asparagus Salad and Goat Cheese, Spinach & Lentil Lasagne.


Joanne said...

I absolutely love ricotta it's not quite so rich and heavy as cream cheese, but still delicious.

Savannah said...

This looks so perfect for summer and nothing beats Ontario strawberries! Tis the season.

We would love it if you posted this recipe (or any others you could share!) on our online community page.