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Almost everyone I know loves cheesecake. But not many people I know bake their own. It seems surreptitious, as if you need a cloak and dark sunglasses instead of an apron and a simple recipe card to bake it.

In some ways, making cheesecake is easier than baking four dozen cookies, it’s just more time consuming because of the two hours you let the cream cheese and eggs come to room temperature, the hour and 20 minutes it bakes, and the couple hours it takes to cool before you stick it in the fridge. (You can plop yourself on the lounge chair and soak up the sun during all that time.)

But the time it takes to whip one up is about the same time it takes to wash the dishes. So your actual time in the kitchen (for this cheesecake) is only about 30 minutes max. And the fresh strawberry sauce is so tasty and easy you’ll never want to buy the frozen stuff again. I hope you give it a try.

For Mother’s Day 2016, the kids, Jason, and I went to Minneapolis for the weekend. We ate at Pittsburgh Blue in Edina and we ordered cheesecake with strawberry sauce and five layer chocolate mousse cake off the dessert menu. Thirteen months later I still think about how luscious that cheesecake was. I wanted to make one just as creamy with a plate-licking-worthy strawberry sauce.

I’ve finally nailed it. No need for a $14.95 family-style slice of cheesecake. I’d rather spend the money on their appetizer of bourbon-maple glazed bacon.

Vanilla cheesecake with fresh strawberry sauce

Crust

1 package (not box) graham crackers (approximately 9 sheets)

10 Golden Oreos (or approximate amount of vanilla wafers or other cookie)

6 tablespoons melted unsalted butter

Cheesecake filling

5 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened to room temperature*

1-3/4 cups sugar

3 tablespoons flour

1-1/2 teaspoons grated lemon zest

1/4 teaspoon salt

1-1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract (no imitation)

5 large eggs, room temperature*

2 large egg yolks, room temperature*

1/4 cup heavy cream, room temperature**

Fresh strawberry sauce

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup water

2 cups quartered fresh strawberries (washed and stems removed)

2 cups chopped fresh strawberries (bite sized pieces, washed and stems removed)

*Approximately two hours before you want to bake the cheesecake, set out the cream cheese and eggs.

**Approximately 30 minutes before you want to bake the cheesecake, set out the heavy cream. 

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly grease bottom and sides of 9-inch springform pan.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor, pulse graham crackers and cookies into fine crumbs. Add melted butter and pulse until wet sand consistency. (Or smash together in a zip top bag.)
  3. Press crust mixture firmly into bottom and slightly up sides of greased springform pan. Bake at 350 degree Fahrenheit for 6 minutes. Remove from oven.
  4. Turn oven temperature up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  5. In large bowl of an electric mixer, beat softened cream cheese on medium-high until smooth, no lumps. Add sugar to cream cheese and mix on medium until well blended. Add flour. Beat until incorporated.
  6. Drop in lemon zest, orange zest, and salt. Pour in vanilla extract. Beat on low until incorporated.
  7. Crack 5 eggs into a bowl or measuring cup. Dump one or two at a time into cheesecake batter; beat on medium low just until incorporated. Scrape down sides and bottom of bowl after each addition. DO NOT OVER MIX. Do the same thing with 2 egg yolks.
  8. Pour heavy cream into mixture and beat on low just until stirred in. Overbeating will cause the cheesecake to crack.
  9. Transfer cheesecake batter into prepared springform pan. Tap pan a few times onto the counter to get out air bubbles. Place springform pan in oven. Bake at 500 degrees Fahrenheit 10-12 minutes, just until top of the cheesecake starts to brown.
  10. Turn oven temperature down to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake 60-70 minutes, or just until filling sets but is slightly jiggly. Turn off oven. Open oven door slightly and let cool to room temperature or remove cheesecake from oven and let cool to room temperature. After about 30 minutes, run a thin knife between the pan and the cheesecake to be sure it doesn’t stick to the side.
  11. Once completely cooled, cover cheesecake in springform pan and place in refrigerator 12 hours or overnight.
  12. Remove springform ring from cheesecake. Slice and serve slightly chilled topped with fresh strawberry sauce. Store cheesecake covered in refrigerator up to 10 days or in the freezer up to 3 months.

Make the strawberry sauce:

  1. Place sugar and water in a small saucepan. Stir and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer until sugar is dissolved.
  2. Cool completely. (Or store in refrigerator until ready to make the sauce a few days later.)
  3. Place the syrup in the jar of a blender and add 2 cups quartered strawberries. Puree until smooth. Pour through a fine strainer, colander, or sieve into a bowl or jar. Stir remaining two cups of berries into puree. Serve over cheesecake or store sealed in refrigerator up to 3 days.

Sweet strawberry patch wishes,

Staci

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Other than South Dakota Magazine, the only magazines you’ll find falling off my office shelves, shoved into my purse, and untidily stacked on my coffee table, nightstand, desk, kitchen table, and office floor are food magazines. The competition for top-of-pile is harsh but with its sixth issue hot like bacon off the press, Wholesome, South Dakota’s premier food magazine, has quickly taken up prime real estate in my home.

Wholesome May June 2014

The July/August edition hit the stands of our favorite local spots this week and it’s jam packed with recipes using blueberries and ingredients from our bountiful garden harvest and farmers markets. If you can’t get your hands on a copy, you can flip through it here and past issues online or you can subscribe to the magazine and have it mailed to your home.

The May/June edition of Wholesome (pictured above) gets you all set for summer gardening, with a few delightful recipes for your strawberry harvest. I have a particular fondness for the Italian Tuxedo Trifle on page 55. It’s a family favorite.

Get more good stuff from Wholesome on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter.

Sweet summer wishes!
Staci 

 

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It was an honor to make desserts for the East Central Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) Fire & Ice formal fundraising event this year.

It was tough to make a final choice for this year’s dessert. For the 2011 event, I made Raspberry White Chocolate Truffle Baby Cheesecakes and they were a crowd favorite. This year, event organizers, Darilyn and Julie, narrowed it down to Italian Tuxedo Parfaits and Andes Mint Baby Cheesecakes. Since the night’s theme colors were an elegant black and red damask pattern, the parfaits made the cut, and we moved the Andes Mint cheesecake babies to the 2013 short list.

It all starts with good-quality chocolate and my favorite amaretto liqueur, which appears not to have started the day as a full bottle. Sampling my friends, sampling.

Instagram photo from my kitchen

A tower of butter is needed to bake enough brownies for 240 guests.

Instagram photo from my kitchen

We served the light desserts in petite wine glasses.

Instagram photo from the Old Sanctuary kitchen

The recipe in today’s post makes one large triffle bowl full of deliciousness. Of course, it’s always fun to serve them as individual triffles.

(A special thank you to Mike, the Brookings Hy-Vee Produce Manager, who spent part of the morning picking out some of the best strawberries with me! …and for making sure I had enough Ghirardelli white chocolate.)

{Italian Tuxedo Trifle}

For the rich amaretto brownies:

1- 1/2 cups butter, melted

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

3 cups sugar

4 large eggs

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 Tablespoon almond extract or bakery emulsion

4 Tablespoons Italian amaretto liqueur (I use Disaronno)

1 cup 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate,  finely chopped

Preheat oven to 350˚. Grease 9×13-inch cake pan or line with parchment paper (This is the first time I used Reynolds Wrap® Pan Lining Paper and I will definitely use it have used it again and again!)

In a medium bowl, stir together melted butter and cocoa. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, beat sugar and eggs on medium speed until fluffy, about five minutes. Slowly beat in the cocoa and butter mixture. Add flour, salt, almond extract and amaretto liqueur; beat just until combined. Spread half of the brownie mixture in the pan. Sprinkle with finely chopped chocolate. Carefully spread the remaining brownie batter over the chocolate all the way to the edges. Bake for 35-37 minutes. Cool completely. Cut into bite-size pieces.

For the silky white cream:

4 ounces white chocolate

4 Tablespoons milk

2 (8-ounces each) packages cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 teaspoon almond extract or bakery emulsion

2 cups whipped topping, thawed

2 pounds fresh strawberries

In a small saucepan over low heat, melt white chocolate and milk. Stir until melted. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth and creamy. Beat in powdered sugar and almond extract. Slowly stir in melted white chocolate. Gently fold in whipped cream.

Slice most of the strawberries into bite-size pieces. You’ll want to save some whole strawberries for garnish on top.

In a large trifle bowl, layer brownies, cream and strawberries. Repeat layers until all the ingredients are gone. Refrigerate 3 hours before serving. Can be made one day ahead.

If you make this, snap a photo and share it with me on Twitter or Instagram @RandomSweets. They’ll all look so pretty!

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