Tag Archives: Strawberries

Individual Cheesecakes

Bday 001

Allison wanted her birthday cake to be cheesecake. And as always, I had to do something special. Since different folks like different tastes, I decided to make individual cheesecakes with a smorgasbord of sauces. Each cheesecake is about the size of a cupcake, and is complete in itself. And then there are the toppings with which each person can choose and complement their cheesecake. All the recipes are in this article, even if some have appeared earlier in other articles.

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For toppings, I made a ganache, a caramel, a praline sauce, lemon curd, strawberries, blueberries, and pumpkin. The latter is because this year we celebrate Alli’s birthday on Halloween, and Halloween goes well with pumpkin cheesecake.

I obviously made way too many, and too much toppings. I was surprised to find that the lemon curd and the strawberries were probably the favorites, with the caramel running third. The ganache was not a favorite; as daughter Mindy told me later- who wants chocolate with cheesecake? Cheesecake is almost the anti-chocolate food.- She also said that she felt pumpkin mousse was not a topping for cheesecake, but if you want a pumpkin cheesecake, you should put the pumpkin in the cheese layer.

Individual Cheesecakes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 2 Tbsp Granulated Sugar
  • 3 Tbsp Butter
  • 3 pkg (8 oz. each) Cream Cheese, softened
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 3/4 cup Granulated Sugar
  • 3 Eggs
  • 2 cups Sour Cream at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract

The above Ingredient list is broken into 3 parts- bottom crust, middle filling, and topping.

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Put cupcake papers into the bottom of 18 muffin cups
  3. For the crust, mix the graham crumbs, 2 Tablespoons sugar and butter until well blended, and press into the bottoms of the cupcake papers.
  4. For the filling, beat the cream cheese, 1 teaspoon vanilla and 3/4 cup sugar until blended. Add the eggs, one at a time mixing on low speed after each just until blended. Spoon over the crusts.
  5. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until the centers are almost set.
  6. For the topping, combine the sour cream, 1/4 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla in a small bowl. Spread over the surface of the warm cupcakes. Return the cupcakes to the oven and bake for another 5 to 7 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or over night.
  7. Remove the cupcake papers and arrange the individual cheesecakes for serving.


Since I made the seven toppings, I will give you recipes for each of them although you should probably only focus on a couple or three for your serving.

Ganache is a mixture of heavy cream and chocolate. I have used several of these in the past and am providing you with a pointer to some of those recipes as well as giving you a recipe herein. Perhaps the best previous recipe was with the home-made Ding Dongs. In that case, We wanted the ganache to set since it was an outside coating, and we wanted it to be shiny. So the amount of chocolate was more than the amount of cream, and we added fat (butter) for the gloss. Likewise, for holding cake pops together, we use a ganache. The recipe in the cake pop article is not strong enough compared to the recipe for white chocolate ganache in the Icings, Frostings and Glazes article; you really need a 4 to 1 ratio of chocolate to cream for cake pops. Here, we want a fairly liquid ganache, and use a 1 to 1 ratio.

Ganache

Ingredients

  • 8 oz. Chocolate Pieces (any flavor or type, including white)
  • 1 cup Heavy Cream

Directions

  1. Place the chocolate in a microwave proof bowl
  2. Heat the cream in a sauce pan until small bubbles start to appear around the edges (just to a boil but not boiling!)
  3. Remove from the heat, and pour over the chocolate.
  4. Let the mixture sit undisturbed for 5 minutes
  5. Stir until all the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth

An alternative approach is to place the ingredients in a double boiler over simmering water and cook, stirring until it is smooth and all the chocolate is melted. Since the chocolate is in a heat proof bowl, and the sauce pan is out, this should be an easy change from heating the cream separately and waiting for the chocolate to melt.

Caramel is a mixture of heavy cream and sugar. Most of the caramel I have used I have made from salted caramel chips, and used a ganache recipe; it works. However, if you want a straight caramel without salt, then the recipe I have in the Guinness Gingerbread Cupcakes article does a nice job.

Caramel

Ingredients

  • 4 Tablespoons butter
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions

The sauce can be made up to 3 days ahead. Cool it to room temperature and refrigerate it in a covered container. Reheat over low heat until smooth and spreadable.

  1. Melt the butter over medium heat in a sauce pan.
  2. Add the brown sugar and cream. Stir with a whisk until the sauce bubbles and gets sticky, about 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in the vanilla and salt.

If ganache is Chocolate and Cream, and Caramel is Sugar and Cream, then I would say that Praline is Sugar and Sugar; it is a very sweet sauce, and this recipe adds chopped pecans to give it more of that Southern flavor.

Praline Sauce

Ingredients

  • 2 Tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespooons cornstarch
  • 1 cup dark corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

  1. In a small heavy sauce pan, stir together the brown sugar and cornstarch
  2. Stir in the corn syrup and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until thick.
  3. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the nuts and vanilla.
  4. Cool slightly, and serve.


I tried many recipes for a lemon sauce, and found I didn’t like any of them. Then I found this recipe for Lemon Curd, and the way the people at the party liked it, I think it is a real winner. As one person said, “I can’t wait to have my toast with lemon curd in the morning”.

Lemon Curd

Ingredients

  • 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 egg yolks in addition
  • 2/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest

Directions

  1. Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl. Add the eggs and egg yolks one at a time, beating each into the mixture. Mix in the lemon juice. The mixture will look lumpy but will smooth out in the next step as it is cooked.
  2. In a heavy bottom sauce pan, cook the mixture over low heat until it smooths out. The lumpy appearance disappears as the butter in the mixture melts. Increase the heat to medium and continue to cook the mixture, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens. The thickened mixture should leave a path on the back of a spoon, and will read 170 degrees F on a thermometer. Don’t let the mixture go beyond 170 degrees, or boil.
  3. Remove the mixture from the heat, and stir in the lemon zest. Transfer the mixture to a bowl, and press plastic wrap on the surface of the lemon curd to keep a skin from forming. Chill the curd in the refrigerator; it will thicken as it cools.

The curd will keep in the refrigerator for a couple weeks, and can be frozen for a couple months.

For the strawberries, I made the Strawberry Sauce recipe that is macerated strawberries. Again, I had tried several different recipes to get a good strawberry sauce, and finally settle on this one; it is juicy and sweet.

Strawberries

Ingredients

  • 16 oz. strawberries, hulled and coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

Directions

  1. Mix the strawberries, sugar and lemon juice, cover, and refrigerate for 24 hours.

Taste the resulting sauce, and if not sweet enough, add more sugar. Some recipes go to 1/2 cup of sugar, while others start with only 2 Tablespoons of sugar.

I started with the idea that I would macerate the blueberries, but then, who would want smashed blueberries. They really would not be very appetizing. So I left the blueberries whole; maceration seems to need the fruit to be cut, or opened such that its juices can flow.

Blueberries

For this “sauce” I added a couple tablespoons of sugar and some lemon zest to the blueberries, but next time, nothing but the berries. I think the zest turned people off; blueberry lovers want the simple pure fruit!

So finally, here is the pumpkin mousse that Mindy said was not proper for a cheesecake; she said the pumpkin should be cooked into the cheese layer of the cheesecake and not painted on top. However, this mousse would make an excellent filling for a simple pie- say graham cracker crust. And it would require no cooking- ready in a jiffy!

Pumpkin mousse

Ingredients

  • 2 small boxes of instant vanilla pudding (sugar free is okay)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 -15 oz. can pure pumpkin/pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp clove

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, combine the vanilla pudding mix, milk, pumpkin and spices.
  2. Whisk until smooth


That is all there is too making the mousse. Use it as you like.

Strawberries and Angel Food Cake

One of Jeff’s favorites is Angel Food Cake with strawberries inside. Marlys made this for him several times. After cooking the Angel Food Cake, she would cut a cylinder out between the tube and the outside of the cake, and stuff it with strawberries, then seal it and coat the top with Cool Whip.
Angel Food Cake etc 013

I have made this for Jeff a couple times; I use Creme Chantilly instead of Cool Whip. I decided to try making it a little different this time.

Strawberries and Angel Food Cake

  • 1 Angel Food Cake mix
  • 2 recipes of Strawberry Sauce (Save out about 6 perfect strawberries)
  • 2 recipes of Creme Chantilly

Make the Angel Food Cake a day ahead so it is good and cooled before starting to carve it. Don’t make it too far ahead of time because I think it settles. I made it 48 hours ahead of time, and it appears smaller now.

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Carve the Angel Food Cake so as to remove all the cake from about the center of the distance between the tube and the outer edge. Save these cake pieces as they will be used as a bottom and layers.

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Fit several of the saved pieces of cake into the bottom of the remaining cylinder of cake. Spread some Creme Chantilly over those cake pieces to make a better bottom in the cavity. Place Strawberry Sauce in the cavity on top of the new bottom. Try to not use too much juice; the extra juice will be used as a glaze on the original cake section.

Repeat putting saved cake pieces into the cavity and then adding Creme Chantilly and finally Strawberry Sauce. I got two layers of Strawberry Sauce.

Angel Food Cake etc 010

Poke with a knife all over the top of the original cake and slowly spoon the remaining juice of the Strawberry Sauce over the original cake and let it sink into the cake.

Now use the remaining Creme Chantilly ice the top of the cake. And finally place the 6 saved perfect strawberries on top in a nice circle.


Angel Food Cake etc 013

The cake mix is fairly explicit about how to mix it up; I used a Betty Crocker mix, and it gives times for mixing at two different speeds. Then it gets wishy-washy on the time to cook the cake; mine came out a little dark on top, which I hide with the Creme Chantilly icing.
Angel Food Cake etc 002
And after all that, I am not certain but that taking a cylinder of cake from the middle- between the tube and the edge of the cake- doesn’t make for a better cake. It seems to ensure that each slice gets strawberries, whereas I saw several people take slices of this cake without getting the strawberries in the center- they cut their wedge too short and didn’t go all the way to the center.
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Strawberry Sauce

Ever since I tried to make Strawberry flavored sauce using the Favorite Sauce recipe, I have been unhappy with the results, and have tried several other recipes, including one for Strawberry Hard Sauce, which turned out to be a flavored butter. None of these recipes left us with the fresh strawberry showing through. Now I can give you a recipe that does. This Strawberry Sauce could also be called Macerated Strawberries. I think if you are into strawberries and want to use them as a sauce, this is your way to go.
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Strawberry Sauce

Ingredients

  • 16 oz. strawberries, hulled and coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

Directions

Mix the strawberries, sugar and lemon juice, cover, and refrigerate for 24 hours.

Taste the resulting sauce, and if not sweet enough, add more sugar. Some recipes go to 1/2 cup of sugar, while others start with only 2 Tablespoons of sugar. Some recipes use heat- bringing the mix to a boil and simmering a couple minutes to start the process and then only take a couple hours to bring the sauce to its finished state.

This process is known as maceration; it is similar to marination but with a sweet liquid. It tends to draw the liquid out of the fresh fruit, and add the flavor of the macerate to the fruit – in this case, sweetness of sugar. It works with other fruits, too.

Strawberry Devonshire Tart

Strawberry Tart 002I have made this tart several times; it is easy, and is a real treat for the strawberry lovers. I particularly like the balance of the cream cheese and sour cream against the sugar in the glaze. The result is that the pie is not excessively sweet.

Here is how to make this tasty tart.

Strawberry Devonshire Tart

  • 9 or 10 inch pastry shell, baked and cooled.

  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 6 Tablespoons sour cream

  • 1 to 1 1/2 quarts strawberries

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • Red food coloring

Beat cream cheese until fluffy. Add sour cream and beat until smooth. Spread on bottom of pie shell and refrigerate.

Wash and hull berries. Mash enough uneven ones to make 1 cup. Force through a sieve and add water to make 1 cup juice, discarding berries.

Mix the sugar and the cornstarch together. Add 1/2 cup water and the berry juice. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until mixture is clear and thickened; then boil 1 minute. Stir to cool slightly and add a little red food coloring if necessary.

Fill shell with remaining berries, tips up, and pour cooked mixture over the top evenly. Chill 1 hour before serving.

For the pastry shell, I buy the frozen kind and then blind bake it. It use to be that we would fill the shell with dry beans to keep it from rising, but the directions now are to prick it all over with a fork. The directions on the shells I bought said to bake at 400 degrees for 7-9 minutes; I thought it came out perfect.

We no longer seem to buy strawberries by the pint basket; I bought a 3 pound container of berries, and I think that maybe the weight follows the old saw about “ a pint a pound the world around”. So my 3 pounds would have been 1½ quarts. That was plenty of strawberries with about a half dozen left over.

To decide how many berries I can afford to mash and use for the juice, I take a second pie tin and arrange the good looking berries to fill the space. This allows me to try to ensure the best berries are whole and in the pie shell, and not mashed.

To mash the “uneven” ones, I first spin them in the food processor; I suspect a potato masher would work, but the food processor really gets the juice flowing. I still put them through a strainer to eliminate any remaining pulp, and all those seeds.
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I hope you will make and enjoy this different type of a fruit pie.

Errol