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August 21, 2012

A Taste of Summer: Strawberry Lemonade Cheesecake


Don't you just love summer? I sure do. Around Seattle, summer only lasts about eight weeks with a few weeks in July (if we're lucky), most August, and a few weeks into September. Although I do love the weather in the Pacific Northwest, the summers are just resplendent. It's almost as if our summer days are more concentrated in smile producing endorphins and sunshine. Or maybe it's just that I'm just that much more grateful for a clear day that's warm and I don't need to wear a few extra layers. 
Even before the summer sun is shining high in a perfect blue canvas of a sky, the farmers markets and grocery stores start to fill with the most scrumptious strawberries, bursting with bright tangy flavor. I enjoy adding them to a cold class of sparkling water or a big favorite of my son's, making strawberry lemonade.

One afternoon when I was slicing up some strawberries for a snack, my mind wandered to the idea of making a cheesecake, when the idea of a strawberry lemonade variation popped into my head. Oooh, this could be really good! And just to make it extra special, I experimented with different for the crust: Animal Crackers!

This is a recipe is not for those in a hurry as the strawberry sauce, lemon curd and cake need several hours to chill out in the fridge before they will be ready. You can make this the night before you need it, just keep in mind that a cold cheesecake is a happy one!



I have to confess that normally I'm not very excited at the idea of making a cheesecake. I stress about water from the water bath getting past the foil barricade and making the crust soggy. It was such a gamble! I am a much more confident cheese cake maker now because of my new favorite invention, The Perfect Cheesecake System, that was sent to me by the person who invented it, the amazing, multi-talented chef Alisa McPheron. The key is her patented silicone pan protector that provides a water proof barrier between the cake and the water bath. It's brilliant! Alisa's system provides recipes, a DVD with step by step instructions, and a few extras too. She's really an amazing gal and so nice too! I wish her the greatest success. Please be sure to click on the link I provided to her site and watch her video and see more details about her and her system.



I love this product so much I am giving one away to one of my readers. Lucky you! Simply leave a comment and I'll pick a winner at random on September 19th. Sorry, you missed it! Be sure to provide a way to contact you (a link to your profile is fine!).

Strawberry Lemonade Cheesecake with Animal Cracker Crust
Yield: Makes 10 to 12 servings

Animal Cracker Crumb Crust
5 ounces of Animal Crackers (I found this very small amount for around $1 in the bulk foods bin at my grocery store)
3 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and kept warm

Cheesecake
3 teaspoons of lemon zest (organic if possible. Be sure to scrub rind before zesting
3 tablespoons of FRESH lemon juice (don't you dare use lemon juice from a bottle or plastic yellow lemon looking thing!!)
1 cup white sugar
4 (8 ounce) packages full fat cream cheese, softened at room temperature
3/4 cup full-fat milk, at room temperature
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup full-fat sour cream, at room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup all-purpose flour

Strawberry Sauce
8-12 ounces of fresh or frozen strawberries, NOT the kind that come "sauced"
1/2 cup of sugar
1/4 cup of water
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Lemon Curd
2 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel

Crust
Adjust over rack to lower-middle position. Lightly coat the bottom and sides of an 8-inch springform pan with non-stick cooking spray. Stack 3 large sheets of 18-inch-wide heavy-duty foil on work surface. Place spring-form pan in center. Wrap foil snugly around pan sides. (Note: if using the Perfect Cheesecake System, this step is not needed. Simply place the springform pan into it's silicone sleeve.)

In a food processor, process cookies to fine crumbs, for about 30 seconds. You should have a total of 1 cup of crumbs. Add sugar and pulse for 2 to 3 times so everything mixes together. Add warm melted butter in slow, steady stream while pulsing; pulse until mixture is evenly moistened and results wet sand, about ten 1-2 second pulses. Press the crumbs evenly down into the base and 1-inch up the sides. Refrigerate for 5 minutes.

Strawberry Sauce
 Clean and hull fresh strawberries and cut into chunks (doesn't matter what they look like, but it helps if they are uniform in size) and dust with sugar. If you using frozen strawberries, place them in a bowl, rise with water and dust with sugar. Mix well and add water. Cover and let sit in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight. If not much juice is coming out from the strawberries, add another 1/4 cup. Put the strawberries into a blender and blend until smooth and uniform. Strain threw a fine wire mess strainer, pushing the strawberries down, extracting as much juice as you can. Discard strawberry pulp (you can keep this and use it on toast or muffins or in a smoothy or even on the cheesecake is you want to, it's up to you.) Add lemon juice. Add more sugar to taste if desired. Set aside until ready to serve cheesecake.

Cheesecake
 In a medium bowl, mix 2 teaspoons of lemon zest and sugar together with your fingers, rubbing the grains of sugar into the lemon, being sure to mix evenly. The sugar should be moist, very fragrant and have a slight yellow hue. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 325.

In a large bowl, mix cream cheese alone until it's smooth and free from any lumps. (If there are lumps, it may be because it's too cold. Wait 15 minutes and mix again.)

Mix in sour cream and flour until smooth. On slow, gradually add lemon-sugar mixture and beat until creamy,

Blend in milk, and then *slowly* mix in the eggs one at a time, mixing just enough to incorporate, about 30 seconds (no yolk streaks). Scrape the bowl and mixer blade.

Beat in remaining 1 teaspoon of lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla. Scrape the bowl and mixer blade and pour into the prepared springform pan

Fill a tea kettle up with water and bring to a boil.

Put a roasting pan that's big enough to hold the springform pan into the oven, place the springform pan into the center and fill the roasting pan with enough boiling water to come half way up the sides of the springform pan (or silicon liner - don't add water to the liner!).

Cover cheesecake pan (not roasting pan) loosely with foil.

Bake 1 hour. Uncover and continue to bake until just set in center when cake pan is gently shaken, about 20 minutes longer. Remove cake from water, place on a small cooling rack and put both directly into refrigerator; chill uncovered overnight.

For curd: Whisk eggs, sugar, and lemon juice in heavy medium saucepan to blend. Add butter and lemon peel. Stir over medium heat until curd thickens to pudding consistency, about 10 minutes. Transfer to small bowl. Press plastic wrap onto surface of curd. Chill until cold, at least 4 hours. (Can be made 3 days ahead.)

Assembly
Cut around cake to loosen. Slowly remove pan sides. Generously top the cake with lemon curd, spreading it around uniformly like it's frosting. Then if desired, drizzle some strawberry sauce on top or table side after it's cut. (Tip: clean knife off after ever cut to ensure a pretty piece that looks professional.)

This was a very light cheesecake that wasn't overly sweet and the crust was a great compliment. Overall a very yummy cake and so much easier with the Perfect Cheesecake System.  Thank you Alisa!

 Give Away Update 

The winner is...
(wait for it)
....
NathasjaT

18 comments:

  1. I've never tried to make a cheesecake before, and this is definitely an incentive to do so! BTW, I've tried your Guinness cupcakes with Bailey's frosting, and it's delicious!

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    1. Oh I'm so glad to hear that Kellie! :)

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  2. This looks delicious! I am an enthusiastic home cook and occasional baker, and I am always looking forward to your posts. Your cakes are like little works of art. I like to make a white chocolate raspberry cheesecake which my family loves - but I dread the water problem every single time I make them. My fear is so bad that I dont make them nearly enough! This strawberry cheesecake variety is up next for sure!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for letting me know that you look forward to my posts. I know I don't post as often as I used to and sometimes wonder if any is reading my newer posts. I'm glad to hear that you're enjoying them. :)

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  3. Awesome Julie! I'm so going to try this one!!

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  4. I'm so going to make this for this Friday, it looks delish! I would have never thought of using animal crackers. Can't wait to see how mine turns out :)

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  5. it looks so delicious i want to have this

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  6. Oh my! I've been craving cheesecake and can't wait to try your recipe...and the Perfect Cheesecake System - they both sound great!

    (dorotheaspears964@hotmail.com)

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  7. I get so happy when I see an email from your blog. You make the most yummiest creations.

    I didn't try cheesecake until a couple of years ago and now, I'd love to try to make one.

    Thanks for the chance!

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  8. It is always a treat to see a new recipe from you. And cheesecake is one of my favorites - thanks for this recipe which I'm going to try.

    pat

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  9. I love cheesecakes. This one looks and sounds amazing. As does that new invention.

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  10. This looks just wonderful and we all love cheesecake at our house!

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  11. How ingenious is this? I LOVE the idea of strawberry lemonade! Yum! I came over to tell you how good this looked, and then saw the giveaway. Pick me, okay? ;) Thanks!

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  12. This looks lovely! I love combining citrus and berries. Yum :)

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  13. Hi, I am a follower of your blog and always love seeing a post arrive in my inbox. Thanks for all the effort you put in to making it so wonderful.
    Just a query about the recipe...you have written "3/4 cup full-fat milk, softened at room temperature". Is it supposed to be something else full-fat rather than milk, or was the "softened" an error?
    Thanks,
    Regards from Australia,
    Angela

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    Replies
    1. Hi Angela from Australia!

      It's the later: you found a typo! It just means to make sure your full fat milk is left out of the refrigerator for at least an hour before you start baking so it's not too cold.

      My apologies and thanks for taking the time to ask me to clarify :)
      Julia

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    2. Thanks so much. I really appreciate you replying. I have a daughter who adores cheesecake, and I have a freezer full of pureed strawberries so very likely I will be making this sometime soon. Any suggestions for using up the rset of my strawberry puree>
      Warm regards from Australia,
      Angela

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    3. There are many things you can do with pureed strawberries! You could make a smoothie, use the puree as a filling in between layers of a cake, or serve it on top of ice cream. Have you considered making freezer jam?

      Delete

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