Strawberry Cheesecake Recipe

Strawberry Cheesecake Recipe Recipe

As I mentioned yesterday, the girls are planning to prepare a scrumptious meal for Mother's Day. My mother-in-law has a sweet tooth, so we decided to surprise her with a homemade strawberry cheesecake. Well, it will be a surprise as long as she doesn’t read this!

This is not your average cheesecake. The crust is made with macaroons and the filling is flavored with both coconut extract and fresh strawberries. My cousin Tri just brought a giant case of strawberries he hand-picked himself with his wife at a “you pick’em” farm in Brentwood. The strawberries were rich in color and flavor. If the strawberries you have aren't very flavorful, you could add a few teaspoons of strawberry extract to reinforce the flavor. We taste-tested the cheesecakes this afternoon and it was a big thumbs-up. Even my little sis-in-law who's allergic to egg yolks could have some, which was quite a treat for her.

In addition to the heart-shaped cheesecake, the girls had the idea to finish the decoration by cutting the fresh strawberry halves into a heart. Isn’t it adorable?

Ingredients

Yields: 6 mini-cheesecakes

coconut macaroon batter (click on the link for the recipe)
2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
2 cups heavy cream, cold
1-½ cups superfine sugar (or granulated sugar)
1-½ teaspoons xanthan gum
1-½ teaspoons liquid lecithin
2 tablespoons canola oil (or any neutral oil)
3 teaspoons coconut extract
2 pounds fresh strawberries
juice of half a lemon
3 tablespoons coconut flakes, slightly toasted
6 fresh mint leaves, for garnish
powdered sugar, for garnish


Directions

Making the coconut cheesecake crust:

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Brush 6 (4-½") mini heart-shaped non-stick spring-form pans with about 1 teaspoon of oil. Line the bottoms with 6 heart-shaped pieces of parchment paper.

Spoon the coconut macaroon batter into the bottom of the 6 molds. Even it out using a spreader or by gently lifting the mold and dropping it several times. Bake for 5 minutes at 375°F; lower the temperature to 350°F and bake for another 20 minutes. The texture of the cake should be very soft and moist. A toothpick should come out clean. If you bake the cake in a large spring-form pan, you might want to extend the baking time by an additional 5 minutes.

Remove from the oven. Let the cakes cool completely. Using a butter knife, separate the cake from the wall of the molds. Open the spring-form molds. Make sure the cakes unmold easily and place back in the spring-form pans.

Create long 4"-wide bands with parchment paper. Place the parchment rectangles along the sides, against the wall of the molds. The paper should be pressed against the crust so the paper doesn't move while the filling is piped for easy unmolding later.

Prepping the strawberries:

Divide the strawberries into 2 bowls, one with 12 ounces and the other with the rest.

Cut 12 ounces into small chunks. Set aside.

Blend the rest of the strawberries. Strain the pulp through a fine-mesh sieve. Add the lemon juice and 1 teaspoon coconut extract. Reserve 12 ounces of the pulp separately and set aside.

For the strawberry cheesecake filling:

Whip the heavy cream (at a low speed) until creamy and smooth for 2-3 minutes. Add ½ cup superfine sugar.

Whisk the cream cheese to soften it. Add the rest of superfine sugar and coconut extract. Gently fold in the whipped cream in stages. This is to make sure that the cream cheese incorporates evenly. Divide the cream cheese mixture into 2 bowls. Add a different quantity of lecithin and xanthan gum to both bowls:

In a small bowl, combine ½ teaspoon xanthan gum, ½ teaspoon lecithin and 1 teaspoon oil. Add the mixture to one of the cream cheese bowls. Stir well and add the coarsely chopped strawberries.

Repeat the same procedure for the other bowl. In the same small bowl, combine 1 teaspoon xanthan gum, 1 teaspoon lecithin and 2 teaspoons oil. Add the mixture to the other cream cheese bowl. Stir well and add 12 ounces of strawberry pulp.

Assembly time:

Place the first filling (the one with the cut strawberries) in a piping bag. Pipe or spoon on the filling in the molds. Repeat with the other filling to create 2 layers. Level the filling with a spatula. Place the pans in the refrigerator for at least 2-3 hours, preferably overnight.

When you're ready to serve, run a knife around the inner wall of the spring-form pan.  If you don't, when you unbuckle the wall you might damage the cake. Remove the pan wall. Gently un-line the cake and transfer onto a serving plate. Decorate with fresh strawberries and sprinkle with coconut flakes. Garnish with a fresh mint leaf and dust with powdered sugar.

Serve with the rest of the strawberry pulp on the side.

Bon appétit!


Tips

For more recipes using cream cheese, coconut and strawberries, click on the links.

Make sure to line the spring-form pans carefully with parchment paper for easy unmolding.

I prefer using superfine sugar. It's fine-grained sugar and it dissolves much more quickly than the regular granulated kind.

Xanthan gum is a fine powder used as a binder and emulsifier. If you look at the list of ingredients for salad dressings and ice cream at the supermarket, you'll find that they contain xanthan gum. I use it for texture and as an egg white substitute. You can find it online or in any specialty food store such as Whole Foods.

I use liquid lecithin as an egg yolk substitute. You can also find this online or in any specialty food store like Whole Foods. Look for a (32-ounce) bottle, not the capsules.

If you like a denser, "New York" cheesecake, don't whip the heavy whipping cream before adding the other ingredients.  I prefer a lighter, fluffier cheesecake style.

Published By: Jacqueline Pham on May 8, 2010.


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