By the time I watched Melissa Clark put the finishing touches on the prettiest cheesecake I’d ever seen, I knew double strawberry cheesecake had to be part of my weekend plans. I messaged my friend, Leanna: “I’m making cheesecake this weekend. Help me eat it.”
Turns out she’d just been looking at the same recipe, and it wasn’t a minute or two more before I’d invited myself over to her house to make this strawberry cheesecake together.
The plan: (1) I’d make the dough for the homemade cookie crust on Friday night, giving it time to rest and saving us some time on Saturday. (2) Bike to the farmers market and pick up fruit and goat cheese. (3) Make cheesecake. (4) Let cheesecake set up in the fridge for at least six hours. Meanwhile, kill time.
Reality: (1) We had a Friday the 13th birthday party so the dough was not put together until Saturday morning before our drive down to St. Pete. (2) Found no strawberries at the market because Florida’s season is so early. Ate a mango pineapple popsicle. Biked to Publix instead. (3) Made the cheesecake…
(4) So how do you make six hours fly by? Here are some suggestions for how to spend that resting period:
- This recipe calls for a small amount of red wine. Work on the rest of that bottle. Waste not.
- Get lunch! You’ve been biking and have worked up a serious appetite. Tacos are an excellent choice.
- Visit your favorite local brewery. Play some ping pong and giant jenga.
- Start (or continue) the new season of Orange is the New Black.
At about hour four or five, we checked on the cheesecake. How long can a girl wait for dessert? Slice. Serve. Pour more wine. Dig in just as that familiar summer storm rolls in.
“Today felt like the first day of summer,” Leanna said.
And it was.
We’d biked to the farmers market past parks with kids on swings, joggers, massive trees, and bungalows covered in vines and bougainvilleas. Sun on my legs. Breeze in my hair. I was the last one in our little bike gang, and I nearly missed it when we reached Drew and Leanna’s house again and everyone else stopped.
I didn’t want it to be over. But really, it isn’t. It’s just the first day of summer. There will be more Saturdays like this.
double strawberry cheesecake
This strawberry cheesecake is different because it mixes fresh berries into the cheese filling rather than just spooning them onto the top in a syrup. The result is a pretty, pink cake made prettier with red wine (you could sub in water or orange juice, but the wine adds flavor and color) and less sweet with some goat cheese. This recipe is from Melissa Clark for The New York Times (video for the recipe here). She says the cheesecake can be made up to three days ahead and kept in the fridge until it’s ready to serve. It is best served cold. She also has a great tip for getting a cheesecake with clean edges. Run hot water over a dish towel and wrap it around the sides of the springform pan just before you’re going to remove them; this softens the sides just a bit so they don’t stick to the pan. Run a knife around the edges of the cake. Then, carefully open the clasp on the side of the pan and remove.
A couple notes… We cut into the cheesecake after maybe four or five hours and all was good. We got clean slices out of the cake. Also, I’m not convinced the cookie dough for the crust needs to rest. When I pulled the dough from the fridge, it was very firm and difficult to roll out until it warmed up a bit. Why not just pat the dough into the pan as soon as you make it and then let it firm up in the fridge? I’m trying this next time and will report back. Having said that, this recipe as it is results in perfect cheesecake. You definitely have to plan ahead for this dessert, but it’s foolproof.
for the crust:
8 tablespoons (115 grams or 1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons (30 grams) packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons (30 milliliters) honey
1 cup (125 grams) all-purpose flour
¼ cup (35 grams) whole-wheat flour
1 tablespoon (7 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder
¾ teaspoon (3 grams) kosher salt
¼ teaspoon (1 gram) ground cinnamon
for the filling:
½ cup (120 milliliters) dry, fruity red wine (we used a California pinot, which worked well)
1 envelope (2 1/4 teaspoons/7 grams) powdered gelatin (unflavored)
1 pound (455 grams) cream cheese, cut into small pieces, at room temperature
⅔ cup (135 grams) granulated sugar
1 cup (8 ounces/225 grams) fresh goat cheese, broken into small pieces, at room temperature
1 pound (455 grams) fresh strawberries, hulled and coarsely chopped, plus several pretty whole or sliced strawberries for serving
To prepare the crust, cream together butter and brown sugar until smooth in an electric mixer or food processor, about 1 minute. Beat in honey.
In a separate bowl, whisk together flours, cocoa, salt, and cinnamon. With mixer running on low speed or using the pulse button on the food processor, add dry ingredients to butter mixture in two batches. Scrape dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap and cover loosely. Flatten into a disk and chill for at least 2 hours or overnight.
Place dough round between two sheets of parchment or wax paper. Roll out dough to a thickness of 1/8 inch. If dough becomes sticky, chill in refrigerator until firm. Transfer dough to an 8- or 9-inch springform pan. Press into bottom of pan and 2/3 up the sides (don’t worry if the sides aren’t even). If some pieces of dough break off in the transfer, just push them back in with the rest of the dough where needed. Prick bottom with a fork. Refrigerate 20 minutes.
Heat oven to 325°F. Place pan on a baking sheet and transfer it to oven; bake until crust is golden and dry to touch, about 25 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack.
Meanwhile, prepare the filling: Pour red wine into a small saucepan and sprinkle gelatin on top. Let rest for 5 minutes, until absorbed. Put pan over low heat and stir until gelatin dissolves. Don’t let gelatin boil, which impedes its gelling power. Let cool.
Combine cream cheese, granulated sugar and goat cheese in an electric mixer or food processor; blend until smooth. Stop once or twice to scrape down sides of the bowl and blend again. Add chopped berries and gelatin mixture and blend until incorporated. Pour mixture into cooled crust; cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate until set, at least 6 hours or overnight. Top with sliced or whole strawberries before serving.
Serves about 10.