This dessert has come to my rescue twice this past month when making meals for a crowd of more than a dozen people. I’ve learned that cheesecake is WAY better the day after letting it rest overnight in the fridge, so along with my Slow Cooker Brisket in a Guinness Sauce, it’s a prefect way to prepare a huge meal the day before to lessen the day-of scramble. The second round of making this cheesecake I was inspired to add a little flair with a Nutella strawberry topping. YUM! And so pretty…
It looks so complicated and beautiful (I think I had stationery that looked like this at one point), but it really couldn’t be easier, You simply reserve some filling, mix it with your preferred topping choice, and then dollop or pour a design and then drag a knife through everything to swirl it together. The biggest challenge is restraint so that everything doesn’t mix together too much and look the same all over. Just relax, it doesn’t have to be perfect, just have fun with it!
The other challenge with any cheesecake (except for the no-bake kind) is how to keep it from cracking. I’ve included a couple tips in the recipe below, such as how you mix the filing, how the temperature of the oven is adjusted mid-baking, and even running a knife around the edge will help in this endeavor. However, I promise it tastes just as fantastic with cracks or without.
2 cups cinnamon graham crackers, ground into fine crumbs
1 tablespoons granulated sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
4 packages of 1/3 fat cream cheese (8 ounces each), at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons lemon juice (approximately 1 lemon)
2 large egg yolks
3 large eggs
1/4 cup pureed strawberries (can be fresh ones that were cleaned and hulled, or defrosted frozen ones)
1/4 cup nutella
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a medium bowl, mix together the graham cracker crumbs and sugar for the crust, and then stir in the melted butter. pour the mix into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan, pressing the crust into the bottom and partially up the sides of the pan.
Bake the crust in the oven for approximately 10 minutes, until it is just beginning to brown. Allow the pan to cool on a cooling rack while you prepare the filling.
Turn the oven temperature up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
In the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment (or a food processor or large bowl with a hand mixer), beat together the cream cheese, sour cream, sugar, vanilla, and lemon juice until entirely incorporated.
Next beat in the egg yolks, stopping as soon as they are incorporated.
Finally beat in the full eggs, once again stopping as soon as they are incorporated (you don't want to get too much air beat into the mixture so that your cake won't crack later).
Remove 1 1/2 cups of the batter, and set aside for use in the topping later.
Pour the rest of the batter into the springform pan, and use a offset spatula or the back of a spoon to flatten the surface and evenly distribute the filling.
In a small bowl combine 3/4 cup of the reserved filling with the pureed strawberries, beating with a fork to combine.
In another small bowl, combine the nutella with the remaining filling, once again beating with a fork to combine.
Using two squeeze bottles or a small pitcher or cup for each of the toppings, and then pour them over the top of the cheesecake, to make any patter you like. I opted for rings of nutella topped with swirls of strawberry that I then dragged a knife through to make it look marbled. If you'd like the color to get down into the bottom of the cake, pour a whole lot in one particular spot then drag your knife through.
Once it looks the way you like, place the cake in the oven and bake at 500 degrees for 10 minutes.
Once the 10 minutes are up, do not open the oven, but just turn down the heat to 200 degrees Fahrenheit and continue to bake for a another hour and a half or so at that temperature without disturbing the cake (this too helps prevent cracks), until the cake is just set in the middle.
Remove the cake from the oven and run a knife around the edge of the cake to help it pull off from the edge of the pan. Cool the cake in the pan on a rack until at room temperature, then cover tightly with plastic wrap and place in the fridge to cool for at least 2 hours, or even overnight, so that the cake holds together well when cut and has the right consistency. In my opinion it is always better served the next day.
Right before you want to serve it, remove the outer ring of the springform pan and cut a slice.
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