Strawberry Cheesecake with Graham Cracker Crust
The combination of cream cheese, cottage cheese and sweetened condensed milk makes for an incredibly rich cheesecake. A homemade graham cracker crust is easy to make (bake it while you make the filling for the cake) and we think it's so much better than store-bought. This recipe is a bit labor-intensive but the cake can be made up to a day ahead, so it's perfect for entertaining.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place the graham crackers crumbs and sugar in a medium bowl.
Slowly mix in the melted butter to form a wet sandy texture and until the mixture clumps when squeezed together.
Spray the sides and bottom of a 9-inch-diameter springform cake pan with nonstick baking spray then line with parchment paper.
Press the crumbs onto the bottom of the prepared pan. Place the pan on a baking sheet and bake until the crust is pale golden brown about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool the crust completely before filling.
To Prepare the Filling:
Sprinkle the gelatin into a small saucepan. Pour the water over the gelatin and swirl to blend. Let stand until the gelatin softens about 5 minutes.
Blend the cream cheese in a food processor until smooth and creamy scraping down the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl occasionally to ensure no lumps remain.
Add the cottage cheese and continue to blend until smooth and creamy.
Add the sweetened condensed milk sugar and egg yolk and blend well. Set aside.
Stir the gelatin mixture over medium heat until the gelatin dissolves about 1½ minutes.
With the food processor running slowly pour the hot melted gelatin mixture through the feed tube and into the cream cheese mixture in a thin stream.
Continue to process to ensure the gelatin is very well blended.
Transfer the cream cheese mixture to a bowl and fold in the strawberries.
Pour the cream cheese mixture into the prepared crust.
Refrigerate until the cheesecake is cold and set preferably 1 day.
To Prepare the Topping:
Place a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat.
Add the water sugar and lemon juice and simmer gently for 3 minutes or until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture thickens slightly and becomes syrupy. Add the strawberries and remove from heat.
Gently stir the mixture allowing the strawberry mixture to cool completely. The strawberries will soften slightly and flavor the syrup as it cools.
Unlock and remove the pan sides from the cheesecake.
Carefully peel away the parchment paper from around the sides of the cheesecake using a small offset spatula as an aid if necessary.
Using the small offset spatula loosen the crust from the bottom of the cake pan and the paper. Using 1 or 2 long wide spatulas remove the cheesecake from pan bottom and transfer the cake to a cake plate. You can use the small spatula or a knife to smooth the sides of the cheesecakes if necessary.
Spoon the strawberry topping over the cheesecake.
Cut the cake into wedges and transfer to plates. Drizzle the balsamic vinegar over the cheesecake and serve.
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