Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Vanilla Strawberry Cheesecake with White Chocolate Drizzle

When strawberries are out of season here in Maryland you find those big gargantuan California Strawberries in all the grocery stores.  They are just gorgeous and they always inspire me to make something wonderful. So I can never resist buying them. I always find something to make with them. How pretty is this!

Vanilla Strawberry Cheesecake with White Chocolate Drizzle

2 cups finely ground graham crackers (about 30 squares)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 stick unsalted butter, melted                                                      

2 (8-ounce) blocks cream cheese, softened                                    
3 eggs                                                                                 
1 cup sugar
1 pint sour cream
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. In a mixing bowl, combine the ingredients with a fork until evenly moistened. Lightly coat the bottom and sides of an 8-inch springform pan with non-stick cooking spray. Pour the crumbs into the pan and, using the bottom of a measuring cup or the smooth bottom of a glass, press the crumbs down into the base and a little up the sides. Refrigerate for 5 minutes.

For the cheesecake:                                                                 

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese on low speed for 1 minute until smooth and free of any lumps. Add the eggs, one at a time, and continue to beat slowly until combined. Gradually add sugar and beat until creamy for 1 to 2 minutes. Add sour cream, lemon zest, and vanilla. Periodically scrape down the sides of the bowl and the beaters. The batter should be well-mixed but not over beaten. Pour the filling into the crust-lined springform pan and smooth the top with a spatula.

Set the cheesecake pan inside another slighly larger pan. This outer pan will keep the water from seeping into the cheesecake when you put both pans in a water bath. Set both pans in a large roasting pan. Pour boiling water into the roasting pan until the water is about halfway up the sides of the outer pan.

Bake for 45 minutes. The cheesecake should still jiggle (it will firm up after chilling), so be careful not to overcook. Let cool in pan for 30 minutes. Chill in the refrigerator, loosely covered for at least 4 hours. Loosen the cheesecake from the sides of the pan by running a thin metal spatula around the inside rim. Unlock springform pan and transfer cake to a cake plate.

Whipped Cream

1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
4 teaspoons cold water
1 cup heavy whipping cream (also known as whipping cream or full cream)
1/4 cup confectioner's sugar
A handful of large California Strawberries or the largest you can find.

In a small pan, mix together gelatin and cold water and let stand until thick. Place over low heat, stirring constantly, just until the gelatin dissolves. Remove from heat; cool but do not allow it to set up. Whip the cream with the confectioner's sugar, until slightly thick. While slowly beating, add the gelatin to whipping cream. Whip at high speed until stiff. Pipe cream on top of cake in little mounds to support your big strawberries.

White Chocolate Drizzle

3/4 cup white chocolate chips
2-3 tablespoons heavy cream

Melt chocolate chips and heavy cream in double boiler until melted and smooth. Drizzle over strawberries and let harden, about 20-30 minutes.

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