Had another office birthday for a co-worker who had requested a cheesecake with strawberries as his birthday cake of choice. I think he wanted strawberries IN the cheesecake, but I decided that making a plain cheesecake with a fresh strawberry sauce on the side, might be a better choice for pleasing not only him, but the entire office. I also needed to use a recipe that called for a 10 inch springform pan, to make sure there would be enough for everyone. This is also a cheesecake which calls for a layer of sour cream topping, which is great for flavor and texture, plus allows you to smooth the top of the cake and have it look really beautiful. The cake turned out great and was met with lots of positive reviews, so if you are looking for a simple cheesecake, this should do the trick.
CHEESECAKE WITH STRAWBERRY SAUCE
For the Crust:
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
For the Filling:
4 8-ounce packages of cream cheese, softened
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons unbleached all purpose flour
5 large eggs
For the Topping:
1 3/4 cups sour cream
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the Strawberry Sauce:
3 small baskets fresh strawberries
2/3 cup granulated sugar
3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, divided
To Make the Crust:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the graham cracker crumbs, granulated sugar and brown sugar. Add melted butter and mix until evenly distributed. Press crumb mixture into and up the sides of a round 10-inch springform pan. Bake crust for 10 minutes, remove from oven and set aside to cool. Maintain oven temperature.
To Make the Filling:
In a large bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar, lemon juice, vanilla extract and salt with an electric mixer until smooth. Once smooth, beat in flour. Add eggs to mixture and slowly beat just until blended, occasionally stopping to scrape down sides of the bowl. Pour filling into the baked crust and bake cheesecake on the middle rack for approximately 50 to 55 minutes, until edge of cake is puffed and slightly cracked and the center is just set. Place cake on cooling rack and allow to cool for 10 minutes, maintaining oven temperature.
To Make the Topping:
In a bowl, whisk together the sour cream, sugar and vanilla until blended and smooth. Pour mixture over the top of the cheesecake and smooth out to the edge of the pan. Place cake back in the oven and bake for 5 or 6 minutes to set topping. Remove cake from the oven to a cooling rack and run a thin knife around the inside edge of the pan. Once cake is cooled, place in refrigerator and chill overnight.
To Make the Strawberry Sauce:
Hull and roughly chop all 3 baskets of strawberries, reserving about 10 whole strawberries. Set whole berries aside. Place chopped strawberries, sugar and 2 teaspoons of lemon juice in a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently. Hull the reserved strawberries and place in blender with remaining 1 teaspoon of lemon juice and puree. Add pureed strawberries to the chopped strawberry mixture and bring sauce to a boil. Lower heat and simmer sauce for 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and pour sauce into a bowl and let cool. Once cooled, cover and chill at least 2 hours or overnight. Serve sauce on the side of cheesecake or spoon sauce over slices of cut cheesecake, if desired.
*Hint: When cutting cheesecake, or any cake for that matter, make sure that you either run your knife under hot water or have a large, tall cup of hot water to dip your knife in and wipe dry before each cut. This not only makes cutting easier, but also preserves the presentation of your cake, and if you know me, I'm BIG on presentation. I have been known to leave detailed instructions on how to cut the cakes I bring into the office, if I am not around to cut it myself. :)
(I also made some freshly whipped cream and piped rosettes along the edge of the chilled cake for decoration, and continued to chill until ready to serve.)