Cheesecake

You can make your own, New York vanilla cheesecake with fresh strawberry sauce

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.

Sweet strawberry patch wishes,

Staci

Vanilla cheesecake with fresh strawberry sauce

  • Yield: 9-inch springform pan, 12 slices

Ingredients

  • 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
  • 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**
  • 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)

Instructions

  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.) 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.

  3. Turn oven temperature up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. 

  4. 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. Drop in lemon zest, orange zest, and salt. Pour in vanilla extract. Beat on low until incorporated.

  5. 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. Pour heavy cream into mixture and beat on low just until stirred in. Overbeating will cause the cheesecake to crack.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. Once completely cooled, cover cheesecake in springform pan and place in refrigerator 12 hours or overnight. Remove springform ring from cheesecake. Slice and serve slightly chilled topped with fresh strawberry sauce. Store cheesecake covered in refrigerator up to 7 days or in the freezer up to 3 months.

  9. Make the strawberry sauce:

    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. Cool completely. (Or store in refrigerator until ready to make the sauce a few days later.) 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.

Notes

*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. 

Relax. I made a cheesecake, I didn’t fold a fitted sheet.

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