Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Strawberry Cheesecake

If you ask me, I'd say that strawberries are overrated. Sure, they're pretty but that's about it. They're usually too tart for my liking, and even when sweet, not sweet enough for my sweet tooth. Given a choice, I'd go for a juicy watermelon or a wickedly sweet mango any day. Strawberry flavour though is a different matter. I can't say I love strawberry ice cream, but I do like strawberry flavoured desserts and drinks. I will leave the drinks for another post and focus my energies instead on strawberry cheesecake, which is what I rustled up in my kitchen last weekend.

If you believe in the smart alecky "work smart, not hard" philosophy, this is a recipe that you must test. No matter how hard you try, the end result is likely to be very pretty, and very cleverly (and dishonestly) conveys the idea that many hours of toil in the kitchen were involved. This was my maiden attempt at cheesecake. As usual, that simply gave me an excuse to spend a couple of hours browsing online for a good cheesecake recipe, and ogle at ridiculously beautiful pictures of cheesecakes on the internet. I have to say that the recipe that I did zero in on the end is a winner. Fail-safe, with delicious results. The only downside though is that it involves vast measures of tasty things that are really bad for your heart and figure/physique. Including butter, condensed milk, soft cheese. Yes, this is a truly evil dessert. There couldn't have been a more sinful way to end my Lenten abstinence from sweets.

I happened to have a fantastic bunch of friends over for a party at home this weekend. Of all the things on the menu (some of which involved post midnight cooking - my area of expertise, and a fair bit of blood and sweat in the kitchen), the cheesecake got the most applause. Enough said.

Here's the recipe (adapted from here)
Photo credit: My talented brother (and his talented DSLR)
Ingredients 20-22 digestive biscuits (reduced to fine crumbs in a food processor) (I used McVities)
40g butter, melted
2 x 200 gram packs Philadelphia cream cheese
397g can condensed milk
juice of approx 1.5 lemons.
sliced strawberries to decorate
Strawberry layer
1 cup strawberries
sugar to taste

  1. Combine the biscuit crumbs and melted butter and press into the base of a cake tin and chill whilst preparing the filling.
  2. Whisk together the cream cheese and condensed milk till well combined. Then stir in the lemon juice until mixed. You will see the mix starting to coagulate gradually with the addition of the lemon juice. Pour over the prepared base and chill overnight. 
  3. Next, puree the strawberries in a food processor. Add sugar to taste. Now heat this mixture in a saucepan over medium heat until it reduces and coats the back of a spoon. Take a few drops on to a plate to check the consistency, which should be very close to that of jam, but need not be as solid - the idea is that when spread it on the cheesecake, the strawberry layer should stay and not drip all over your kitchen floor.
  4. Remove cheesecake from the fridge, spread the strawberry layer evenly on top and decorate with the sliced strawberries.

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