Strawberry-Topped Cheesecake with Graham Cracker Crust

by Hilary Gauntt on January 21, 2016

Back in January 1998 Bon Apetit conducted a survey asking readers about their food likes and dislikes. Least favorite vegetable was cabbage, least favorite fruit was fig and most unpopular herb was tarragon (followed closely by cilantro). In the dessert category the favorite treat was cheesecake! To reward the readers the magazine developed a brand-new recipe for this sweet classic, and put it on the cover.

It’s Casey’s birthday, so I’m taking a break from the healthy recipes for the New Year and making his favorite birthday cake – this recipe! It’s fairly easy to make, looks quite impressive and weighs a ton. A hint of lemon in the filling and a topping of gorgeous whole berries brushed with a jelly glaze make this worth every calorie!

Begin preparing this a day before serving.

CRUST

20 whole graham crackers (10 ounces total), broken

3/4 cup ( 1 1/2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, diced

1/2 cup golden brown sugar, packed

FILLING

4 8 ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature

1 3/4 cups sugar

3 Tbs. fresh lemon juice

2 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Pinch of salt

3 Tbs. flour

5 large eggs

TOPPING

2 cups sour cream

3 Tbs. sugar

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

2 16 ounce baskets strawberries, hulled

1 18 ounce jar raspberry jelly

For crust: Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Wrap foil around outside of a 10-inch-diameter springform pan with 3-inch-high sides. Combine graham crackers, butter and sugar in processor. Using off/on turns, blend until crumbs begin to stick together. Press crumbs onto bottom and 2 3/4 inches up sides of springform pan. Bake crust 10 minutes. Transfer to rack and cool while preparing filling. Maintain oven temperature.

For filling: Beat cream cheese, sugar, lemon juice, vanilla and salt in a large bowl until very smooth. Beat in flour. Add eggs and beat just until blended, stopping occasionally to scrape down sides of bowl. Pour batter into crust. Bake cheese cake until outer 2-inch edge of cake is puffed and slightly cracked, center is just set and top is brown in spots, about 55 minutes. Transfer cake to a rack. Cool 10 minutes. Maintain oven temperature.

For Topping: Whisk sour cream, sugar and vanilla in medium bowl to blend. Spoon topping over cake, spreading to edge of pan. Bake until topping is just set, about 5 minutes. Remove from oven. Run knife between crust and pan.

Cool hot cake in pan on rack. Chill overnight.

Release pan sides from cheesecake. Arrange whole berries, points facing up, atop cheesecake; cover completely. Stir jelly in heavy saucepan over medium-low heat until melted. Cool to barely lukewarm, about 5 minutes. Brush enough jelly over berries to glaze generously, allowing some to drip between berries. Reserve remaining glaze in saucepan. (Cake and glaze can be prepared 6 hours ahead. Cover cake and refrigerate.)
Rewarm remaining glaze until pourable. Cut cake into wedges. Pass remaining glaze separately. Serves 12.

Note: Make sure your pan has 3 inch high sides, as this will fill it to the brim! My cake took about 10 minutes longer for the middle to set. I have combined raspberries with the strawberries, or for July 4th sprinkled some blueberries on as well. I can never find raspberry jelly, but strawberry or red currant seem to work just as well. And I have never bothered to reheat the glaze and serve it alongside; seems like overkill. Lower fat cream cheese and sour cream work fine.

cheesecake

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