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Categories: Cakes | Cheesecakes

For best results, use Philadelphia-brand cream cheese. Bake the cheesecake at least one day and up to two days before serving. For a smooth cheesecake, scrape the bowl often while making the cheesecake batter and make sure all the ingredients are at room temperature. You can crush with the food processor or by hand. Place the cookies in a heavy duty food storage bag and roll a rolling pin over the cookies a few times. The cheesecake without the toppings can be made 2 days ahead. Covered and keep refrigerated.

Crust
One 9-ounce package chocolate wafer cookies, coarsely broken
6 Tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 325°F. Butter 9-inch diameter springform pan with 3-inch high sides. Double-wrap outside of pan with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Place cookies in food processor and blend until coarse crumbs form. Add butter and process until evenly moistened. Press crumb mixture firmly onto bottom and halfway up sides of prepared pan. Bake crust 8 minutes; cool on rack.

Filling
1 pound good-quality white chocolate (such as Lindt or El Rey), finely chopped
Four 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup granulated white sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup whipping cream
2 Tablespoons vanilla extract
Three 1-pint baskets strawberries, hulled, halved

Topping
1/2 cup strawberries preserves
2 Tablespoons brandy or water

1. Melt the white chocolate on top of a double boiler set over barely simmering water. Stir until melted and smooth. Remove from over water. Cool to lukewarm, stirring occasionally.

2. Using an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, beat cream cheese until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Gradually add sugar, then salt; beat until smooth. Scrape the bowl. Add the eggs 1 at a time, beating and scraping the bowl well after each addition. Add sour cream, whipping cream and vanilla; scrape the bowl beat until well blended. Gradually add melted white chocolate, beating until mixture is smooth.

3. Pour filling into crust. Place the cheesecake pan in a roasting pan and fill with hot water until it comes half way up the sides of the cheesecake pan. Bake cake until the top of the cake move as one solid piece when you shake gently and the center is still wobbly about a 3-inch circle in the center, about 1 hour 20 minutes. You may need to remove the cheesecake from the oven a little earlier than the recipe suggests, because baking times are not always exact due to variations in ovens. Open oven door slightly and turn off the oven. Leave cheesecake in the oven 30 minutes. Place the cheesecake uncovered overnight.

4. To unmold the cheesecake, run a small knife between the pan sides and cheesecake. Remove the cheesecake. Starting at outer edge of the top of cheesecake, arrange strawberry halves in slightly overlapping concentric circles, covering top completely. In a small saucepan melt the preserves and brandy over medium heat until it comes to a boils. Strain the preserves. Brush the preserves generously over the strawberries, allowing some of the preserves to drip between berries. Chill. The topping can be made 3 hours ahead.

Posted on Jan 10, 2008

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