Recipe of the Week: March 19 - March 25, 2001

Strawberry Cheesecake

Makes one 9-inch cake; serves 12

For the Crust:
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the Filling:
Three 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
6 large eggs, at room temperature
2 cups sour cream, at room temperature
1/3 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup strawberry jam
1/2 cup finely chopped, strawberries
12 whole strawberries, hulled


For the crust:
    Preheat an oven to 350F. Grease a springform pan 9 1/2 inches in diameter and 3 inches deep with butter. In a bowl, combine the crumbs, sugar and melted butter, breaking up any large crumbs and mixing well. Firmly press the mixture evenly over the bottom and about 2 inches up the sides of the prepared pan.

For the filling:
    In a large bowl, break the cream cheese into pieces. Using an electric mixer set on medium speed, beat until soft and creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the sugar and beat until the mixture is smooth, 1-2 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Reduce the speed to low and beat in the sour cream, flour, vanilla and lemon zest and juice until thoroughly blended.

    Remove 1 cup of the batter and place it in a small mixing bowl. Add the strawberry jam, mixing thoroughly, and then gently mix in the chopped strawberries. Pour this mixture into the rest of the batter and stir just until incorporated. Pour into the prepared pan and jiggle the pan until the batter is level.

    Bake for 1 hour. Turn off the heat and allow the cheesecake to rest undisturbed in the oven until set, about 30 minutes longer. Transfer to a rack and let cool. Cover and chill overnight before serving.

    Just before serving, run a knife around the pan sides to loosen the cake. Release the pan sides and place the cake on a plate. Arrange the whole berries evenly around the top, marking a slice with each berry.