When Ro was going on a visit to Germany and Austria for the annual music messe in the last week of March this year, I decided to make this cheesecake as a send off treat for him. He would be away from home for more than a week and this was my way of showing the special man in my life that he would be missed! I even packed a slice for him for his onwards journey, to exonerate him from the boring and insipid flight food.
Strawberries are quite special to me. They look and taste wonderful and there are such amazing ways to utilize them. They are almost gone and out of season here in India and I was lucky to make this from the last batch of strawberries delivered at my doorstep from my fruit seller.
I call this recipe a vegetarian strawberry cheesecake instead of simply calling it strawberry cheesecake or eggless strawberry cheesecake because I have been overwhelmed many a time, going to a restaurant, a cafe or a bistro and eyeing a luscious looking piece of cheesecake and not being able to eat it because I’m a vegetarian and most cheesecakes contain the dreaded gelatine, a vegetarian's foe usually present in mouthwatering desserts. It is surprising how in India eggs are considered non-vegetarian and desserts with gelatine are passed off as vegetarian.
This cheesecake is full of flavour and a perfect way to highlight the lusciousness of strawberries. To bring out the authentic taste of a good cheesecake, I experimented with Philadelphia Cream Cheese, which apart from being doubly priced is not easily available in India. It is one of those desserts which is quite simple to make but looks as if you have toiled for hours.The next time I make cheesecake, which is going to be quite soon, with my favourite fruit mango, I intend to use all easily available local ingredients. Stay tuned!
Vegetarian Strawberry Cheesecake Recipe
One of the highlights of this cheesecake is the topping. It is easy to make but looks attractive and tastes exquisite. It helps to bring out the flavour of the strawberries in this cheesecake.
70 gm, 1/2 cup flour
50 gm (1/3 cup) almonds, ground
50 gm (1/3 cup) walnuts, ground
2 tbsp butter, melted
2 tbsp dark brown sugar (muscovado or jaggery)
2 tbsp water
500 gm, 2 (8 oz) packages cream cheese (I used Philadelphia cream cheese)
400 gm, 1 tin sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup strawberries, pureed in a blender or food processor
600 gm (1 1/2 cup) yogurt, drained overnight in a cheesecloth covered strainer to make 3/4 cup thick yogurt
1/2 cup strawberries
2 tbsp sugar
Prepare the topping:
In a blender or food processor puree strawberries and sugar until smooth. Keep aside.
Prepare the Crust:
In a bowl, mix all the ingredients for the base and press into a greased 9 “ (23 cm) springform pan.
Make the Cheesecake mixture:
In the bowl of a stand mixer or food processor or with a hand blender whip the cream cheese until smooth. Beat in condensed milk, strawberry puree and vanilla. When smooth, mix in the yogurt and beat until well mixed.
Pour the cheesecake mixture into the prepared crust.
Gently pour the strawberry topping over the cheesecake mixture and tilt the pan to make it spread evenly.
Bake in a preheated oven at 160 degree centigrade, 325F, gas mark 3 for 25 to 30 minutes or until set.
Bring to room temperature and chill well, for atleast 3 hours in the refrigerator before you serve.
Makes one 9" round cheesecake
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