Desserts/Pastries

Fresh Strawberry Cheesecake…because it’s Leap Day!

Fresh Strawberry Cheesecake

It’s Leap Day-–so let there be Cheesecake!

Fresh Strawberry Cheesecake to be exact.

Fresh Strawberry Cheesecake

You may be wondering what Fresh Strawberry Cheesecake and Leap Year have in common. Not much really but I’ll take any excuse to indulge in something yummy and pretty 🙂

Happy Leap Day!

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Fresh Strawberry Cheesecake

Ingredients:

Crust:
2½ Cups Graham Cracker Crumbs
3 Tablespoons Sugar
6 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, melted

Filling:
24 Ounces Cream Cheese, at room temperature
¼ Cup Sour Cream, at room temperature
1 Cup Granulated Sugar
3 Large Eggs, at room temperature
¼ Teaspoon Cornstarch
2 Teaspoons Pure Vanilla Extract
Zest of 1 Lemon

Whipped Cream:
1 Cup Heavy Cream, chilled
2 Tablespoons Sugar

1 Pint Fresh Strawberries, washed and stemmed

Preheat oven to 325 ˚F.

Prepare a 9-inch spring form pan by wrapping the outside with 2-3 sheets of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Spray the inside of the pan with cooking spray. Combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and butter until moistened and resembles the texture of wet sand. Pour into the pan and evenly press the crumbs into the bottom of the pan and about one inch up the sides. Bake for 8-10 minutes until golden and cool to room temperature.

Using a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip the cream cheese and sour cream until its light and fluffy. Gradually mix in the sugar. Mix in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla extract, lemon zest and cornstarch until well combined. Pour the filling into the cooled crust.

Place the springform pan in a large roasting pan on the middle rack of the oven. Fill the roasting pan with hot water to come halfway up the sides of springform pan. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until the center is set. Allow the cake to sit in the oven (heat turned off) with the door propped open for about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack. Allow the cake to cool for an additional 30 minutes. Wrap well with plastic film and foil. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours. Carefully remove the sides of the pan by running a hot knife around the outside of the cake. Carefully release the ring mold.

Prepare the whipped cream. Using a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the chilled heavy cream on high until it just holds stiff peaks. Slowly sprinkle in the sugar until you reach a thick consistency.

Arrange the whole strawberries on top of the cheesecake. Place a piping tip inside of a pastry bag and fill with whipped cream. Pipe decorative patterns of whipped cream on top of the cheesecake.

Desserts/Pastries

Chocolate Tart with Hazelnut-Graham Crust

Chocolate Hazelnut Tart

The Tết Festivities (Lunar New Year) has finally come to a close. And so far, the Year of the Dragon isn’t looking too bad at all. I’ve eaten a ton of yummy food, my home is spankin’ clean, work hasn’t been a hot mess, and I even found money in the pocket of one of my coats I haven’t worn in awhile. Score!

Ok, let me revise that. The BEST thing this week is that I get to meet my brand new nephew, Leonidas (Leo), tomorrow! He’s so adorable and CHUBBY! Of course, pictures are to come.

Over the weekend, the clan got together at my auntie’s home for Tết. We ate, drank, gambled, gave/received lì xì (lucky money), and had a good ol’ time with the peeps.

I had struggled for some time thinking what I should bring to the party as my aunties and sis would be covering the Vietnamese dishes. Vietnamese desserts aren’t really my specialty so after much mulling around, I decided to whip up a few Chocolate Tarts. I know…not the least bit Vietnamese or even Asian for that fact but I was pretty sure the fam wouldn’t complain.

For the recipe and cute video tutorial, check out Dulce Delight.

I’ve got two quick tips should you try this little number out… … First, after you bake the tart you may freak out a bit if the filling looks a bit grainy or bubbly. I know, cause I totally did! But don’t worry, once it cools, it all settles and the gorgeous honey-ganache glaze covers any imperfections. And second, although the flavor of the crust was divine, mine was really crumbly. I’d recommend throwing in another tablespoon of butter to the party.

I served the tart with fresh whipped cream and it was bliss. The tart itself is like a rich, decadent truffle and the hazelnut crusts added a great crunch and flavor—kind of like a Ferrero Rochers. Mmmm…I love those.

All in all, I’m liking the Dragon. 🙂