Monday, April 25, 2011

STRAWBERRY SWIRL CHEESECAKE WITH CHOCOLATE GRAHAM CRACKER CRUST

strawberry swirl cheesecake (5)

I made this cheesecake  in 2008, with a different crust and different ingredients in the filling.  It was excellent.  This time, I used my homemade graham crackers for the crust, adding chocolate chips and cocoa.  Instead of using sugar for the strawberry puree, I used strawberry jam sweetened only with fruit.   I liked this version better.  Served with extra puree spooned onto the plate, everyone raved over this version, and I’m keeping it as my current favorite. 

strawberry swirl cheesecake (2)

Strawberries are available year round, though in-season local strawberries are always the best.  You can make this deliciously firm, creamy and rich New York-style cheesecake with frozen or out-of-your area strawberries.    You won’t be disappointed if you try it.  And cheesecake freezes beautifully, so no need to feel like you have to eat it all up in a few days.

strawberry swirl cheesecake (3)

Strawberry Swirl Cheesecake with Chocolate Graham Cracker Crust
Adapted from recipezaar.com
Rating:  9.5 out of 10
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Strawberry Puree:  1/2 lb.  fresh or frozen strawberries, hulled, washed, sliced
1/4 cup strawberry fruit spread, sweetened only with fruit juice
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 Tbsp. almond liqueur (or lemon juice)
1 Tbsp. butter

Crust: 1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1-1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
5 Tbsp. butter, melted
1 Tbsp. cocoa

Filling:  3 (8-oz.) pkgs. Neufchatel cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract (I used my homemade vanilla)
1/2 tsp. lemon zest, finely grated
1 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. orange extract
3 Tbsp. heavy cream

Garnishes:  Whipped cream, Chocolate shavings, extra whole strawberries

Make strawberry puree:  In  medium heavy saucepan, crush berries with a potato masher.  Add fruit spread and cornstarch and stir to combine.  Heat to boiling over medium-high heat, stirring as needed. Cook till mixture is thickened, several minutes. Remove from heat and strain through a sieve. Stir in butter and flavoring. Cool thoroughly.

Make crust:  Heat oven to 325F.  Process chocolate chips in work bowl of food processor until chopped in fine pieces.  Add remaining crust ingredients and pulse till everything is combined.   Pat dough onto bottom and 1" up sides of a greased 8" springform pan lined tightly with two layers of tinfoil that go all the way to the top of the pan. Place on a baking sheet. Bake 15-20 minutes or until set. Cool on a wire rack.

Make filling:   Heat oven to 400F.  Start heating a pot of water for the water bath.  Wipe work bowl and blade of food processor.  Combine cream cheese and sugar, pulsing till smooth and well mixed.  Add eggs and yolk, one at a time, pulsing only till yellow disappears after each addition.  Scrape sides and bottom of work bowl.  Add remaining ingredients and pulse just till combined. 

Prepare for baking:  Pour batter evenly into cooled crust.  Swirl half of the puree (about 3/4 - 1 cup) into the top of the cheesecake.  (Do this by dotting the mixture over the top and swirling with a knife or spatula.)  Place foil-lined springform pan in a large baking pan.  Fill pan with hot water halfway to the top of the cheesecake pan.  Bake 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 250F.  Bake an additional hour and 30 minutes, or till cheesecake is set.  Cool on wire rack for 2 hours, then uncovered in fridge for 2 hours.  Cover cheesecake and refrigerate overnight before serving.  Yield:  8-10 servings

1 comment:

Roz from 'la bella vita' said...

Another fantastic cheesecake recipe, Judy! With fresh strawberries out right now, this sounds incredible! Saving this recipe too!