Strawberries and Cream Cheesecake

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Makes 1 large cheesecake
Adapted from: Martha Stewart

With fall quickly approaching in all of its pumpkin spice glory, I wanted to make one last little something that resembled sweet summer (rest in peace). I originally made this recipe as my own birthday cake for my 14th birthday, and it was a total hit; probably the best cheesecake I’ve ever had. Now, over 2 years later, I decided to make a cheesecake for an upcoming cross country team party, and this trusty old recipe was the first thing I thought of. The girls loved it.

There are a couple reasons why this recipe never fails. First of all, the use of marscapone cheese to replace some of the cream cheese makes for a much lighter, softer cheesecake, which I prefer over a dense, rock solid block like you’d get at the Cheesecake Factory. Also, this recipe is more exciting than your basic vanilla cheesecake, but hardly any more work, as all you have to do is roast some strawberries. No fancy topping required, so you can make it far in advance (I’d say 4 days max) and keep it in your fridge or even freezer. Also, it’s just so cute to look at. The soft pink and the cream striped combination just reminds me of a vintage, family-owned bakery/boutique. That was uncomfortably specific… but you know what I mean. Right?

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 pounds strawberries, hulled
  • 3 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1 1/3 cup finely ground graham crackers
  • 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 pound plus 13 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped and reserved
  • 8 1/4 ounces mascarpone cheese, room temperature

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Place strawberries in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with corn syrup, and toss gently to coat. Bake until syrup thickens and strawberries turn deep red and shrink slightly, about 1 hour 30 minutes. Transfer strawberries and syrup to a medium bowl, and mash with a potato masher. Let cool completely.

Raise oven temperature to 350 degrees. Stir together graham cracker crumbs, 3 tablespoons sugar, and the melted butter in a small bowl. Press mixture into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan to make an even layer. Bake until crust is firm to the touch and has just darkened, about 10 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack, and let crust cool completely.

Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. Put cream cheese into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; mix on medium-low speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl, then gradually add remaining cup sugar and the salt. Scrape down sides of bowl; add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down sides of bowl, and mix in vanilla bean seeds and mascarpone until very creamy and no lumps remain, about 3 minutes. (Reserve vanilla bean for another use.)

Transfer 4 cups cream cheese mixture to bowl with mashed strawberries; stir to combine. Pour strawberry-cream cheese mixture on top of crust; smooth with an offset spatula. Carefully spoon dollops of plain cream cheese mixture on top, smoothing with an offset spatula.

Wrap the exterior of the springform pan in 2 layers of foil; set in a large roasting pan. Fill roasting pan with boiling water until water reaches halfway up the sides of the springform pan. Bake cheesecake until set, about 1 hour to 1 hour 10 minutes. Remove springform pan from water bath, and transfer to a wire rack to cool. Refrigerate until cold, at least 4 hours.

Happy dining!!

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