Seasonal, fresh strawberries combined with tart rhubarb make an exquisite and beautiful topping for this cheesecake. Because I love sweet and sour flavors so much, strawberry rhubarb desserts are my favorite. Entice everyone when you set this bright cheesecake on your sweet table.
Active prep time: 15 minutes
Bake time: 55 minutes
Inactive prep time: 5 hours or overnight refrigeration
For the Crust:
1½ cups finely ground Maria cookies*
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1. Preheat oven to 350˚F.
2. In a 2 or 3-quart mixing bowl and using a fork or pastry cutter, combine the ground cookies with cinnamon and melted butter until uniform.
3. Transfer the mixture to a 9-inch spring form pan: spread the crumb mixture evenly, pushing it up with fingers along sides of pan to rise ¾-inch high.
4. Gently pat and flatten the crumb mixture at bottom and at sides of pan; set aside.
For the Cheesecake:
Three 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. In a 5-quart mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese with the sugar and one egg until mixture is smooth.
2. Beat in the remaining eggs, one at a time; stir in the vanilla extract.
3. Pour cheesecake batter over crumb mixture in pan.
4. Set pan on a rack placed in center of oven and bake 50 to 55 minutes or until cheesecake is light golden brown and begins to crack at sides.
5. Turn off oven and leave cheesecake to set for 30 minutes.
6. After 30 minutes, transfer cheesecake to counter, cover with foil and let cool 2 hours (do not remove cheesecake from spring form pan).
7. Refrigerate the cheesecake 5 more hours or overnight (it’s best to make cheesecake one day ahead).
For the Strawberry Rhubarb Filling:
2 cups diced fresh strawberries
1¼ cups diced fresh rhubarb (about 2 medium stalks)
½ cup granulated sugar
1/8 cup cold water and 1 teaspoon cornstarch (mixed together in a cup)
1. Combine the strawberries, rhubarb and sugar in a 2 or 3-quart saucepot.
2. Bring to a boil and cook on medium heat for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon.
3. Set heat on low and cook for 3 more minutes, stirring frequently to prevent sticking.
4. Stir in the cornstarch mixture; cook and stir 1 more minute until thickened.
5. Transfer the filling to a glass or porcelain bowl, cover and cool on a counter. After cooling, refrigerate about 1 hour or overnight.
To serve: Remove sides of spring form pan from cheesecake. Set the cake with pan bottom on a large platter, spoon the strawberry filling over its top and serve individual slices.
*Note: Maria cookies are round, sweet biscuits. Each biscuit has perforations or holes and the name “Maria” engraved on its top surface.
Text & Photograph © 2011 Nancy DeLucia Real