I've been pretty busy the past few weeks - Grant's parents visited for three weeks and we've had a lot of activities going on, not the least of which is cooking and eating! We've tried several new recipes (as I am never hesitant to try out new things on guests) and this was the biggest dessert experiment. It is truly a lovely cheesecake, fluffy and light tasting, with just the right amount of chocolate to complement the strawberries. I have to admit that both Grant and I prefer more dense cheesecakes, ones without sour cream and the extra egg, to be more specific, but we certainly didn't complain about this one and neither did anyone else.
I loved having some extra of the strawberry puree to drizzle on top - it added that extra zing of fresh strawberry flavor. Adding some homemade sweetened whipped cream wouldn't be a bad idea either (is it ever?) but we skipped that this time.
Recipe: (adapted from Annie's Eats)
1 package graham crackers, crushed
2 t. sugar
1/4 c. butter, melted
1/2 t. cinnamon
24 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1-1/3 c. sugar
4 large eggs
1-1/2 t. vanilla extract
1/4 t. salt
12 oz. sour cream
1 c. strawberry puree*
4 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
4-1/2 oz. heavy cream
1/2 of 1 large egg, beaten
1 lb strawberries
2-3 T. sugar
juice of half a lemon
Hull and slice the berries. Toss with sugar and let sit in a strainer over a bowl for a couple of hours. If you have more than 2 oz. juice, heat on the stove in a small saucepan until reduced. If not, puree the berries in a blender or food processor with juice and the lemon juice until smooth.
To make the crust: Preheat oven to 350°. Combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, butter, and cinnamon and press into the bottom of a 9" springform pan. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Let cool while you make the filling.
Combine the cream cheese and sugar in a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium-high speed for 3 minutes, until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition and scraping down the sides of bowl as needed. Blend in the vanilla and salt. Mix in the sour cream until well incorporated. Blend in the strawberry puree.
Place a baking pan filled with hot water on the bottom rack of the oven. Pour the batter into the crust. Place in the center of the oven. Bake for 55 minutes.
Remove the cheesecake from the oven but maintain the oven temperature. To make the topping, place the chocolate in a small bowl. Bring the cream to a boil in a small saucepan. Pour the hot cream over the chopped chocolate and let stand 1-2 minutes. Whisk until smooth. Whisk in the egg. Spread the topping mixture over the still hot cheesecake, being careful not to pour it all in one place. Smooth the top with a spatula if necessary. Bake 12-15 minutes, until the topping is set around the edges. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire cooling rack. Cover with a large bowl inverted over the top to help cool slowly. When it comes to room temperature, transfer to the refrigerator. Chill at least 8 hours before unmolding form the springform pan - and be sure the topping is completely set before covering with plastic wrap. Transfer to a serving platter. Garnish with sliced strawberries and blueberries, if desired. Slice with a thin knife run under hot water and wiped dry between slices.
Drizzle with leftover strawberry puree if desired.