This cheesecake was created in honor of a dear friend’s daughter who was turning 11. She requested cheesecake for her birthday treat, either strawberry or cherry topped (I chose both!) and her mom asked if I could make something even my gluten free daughter might enjoy at her party. Yeah, for all the sensitive parents looking out for kids with allergies and intolerances. We appreciate it!
If you’ve made cheesecake before, you might be familiar with the complications; baking in a water bath, cheesecake tops cracking after leaving the oven, soggy crusts. Ewww. It’s enough to scare anyone away from making one. But a good cheesecake is heavenly with its sweet and toothsome crust coyly dancing with the tanginess of the creamy filling. Let’s give it a go, shall we?
- 8 ounces finely ground gluten free graham crackers or animal cookies
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
- ½ cup sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2½ pounds cream cheese, softened to room temperature (5- 8 oz packages)
- 1½ cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons sweet rice flour or non-GMO cornstarch
- ½ teaspoon lemon zest
- ½ teaspoon orange zest
- 2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 5 large whole eggs plus 2 large yolks, room temperature
- ⅓ cup sour cream
- 1 quart fresh strawberries
- ½ cup seedless strawberry jam
- Butter the bottom and sides of a 9" springform pan. Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Place rack in the lower middle of the oven.
- In a food processor combine the cookie crumbs, butter, sugar, and salt. After the mixture is thoroughly mixed, dump into the prepared springform pan and press up the sides (stopping 1" from the top) and onto the bottom of the springform pan in an even layer. Freeze until the filling has been prepared.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, blend the cream cheese, sugar, and sweet rice flour or cornstarch on medium low speed until mixture is creamy and no lumps of cream cheese remain.
- Add the lemon zest, orange zest, and vanilla extract and mix briefly to combine.
- Add the eggs and yolks, one at a time, mixing on low, until well combined. The mixture may appear clumpy or broken at first but will come back together with continued mixing. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and paddle before proceeding.
- Add the sour cream and blend on medium until completely mixed.
- Add the filling to the crust, smoothing the top with an off set spatula.
- Place the cheesecake on a sheet pan to catch any butter that may leak from the pan. Place the cheesecake in the oven and bake for 8-10 minutes. The crust will begin to turn light brown. Reduce the oven temperature to 200 degrees, without opening the oven door, erring on the shorter time if crust seems to be darkening rather fast. Bake for an additional hour, or until a thermometer inserted in the center of the cake is near 150 degrees. You can cover the top of the pan with parchment paper if you see that the top of the cheesecake is turning too dark. The cheesecake will be set around the edges but the interior will continue to appear a bit jiggly. This is as it should be. Let the cheesecake cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes before running a knife around the edge of the cheesecake between the pan and the crust, being careful not to cut into the crust. This step is an added measure to help prevent the cheesecake from cracking as it cools.
- Once the cheesecake is completely cool, cover the top with plastic wrap and transfer to the refrigerator to chill at least 6 hours and preferably overnight.
- Slice the stem end of the strawberries off. Next cut the strawberries into slices from stem end to tip, saving 1 beautiful strawberry whole for the center. For a more attractive presentation, discard outer pieces. Begin laying sliced strawberries around the perimeter of the cheesecake and continuing in concentric circles until you reach the center. Place 1 large reserved strawberry upside down in the center of the cheesecake. Warm the strawberry jam in the microwave or in a saucepan on the stovetop. Using a brush, apply the jam, which is now thinned out a bit, to the top of the cheesecake, covering all of the strawberry slices evenly. Slice and serve, running the knife blade under hot running tap water and wiping the blade clean between slices for a more attractive appearance.
The gluten free crust pressed firmly into the springform pan.
The cheesecake just out of the oven, lovely shades of golden brown fleck its surface.
Strawberry jam warmed and being applied to the sliced strawberry topping to give it a luscious glazed appearance.
Mmmmm. Doesn’t that look divine?
The birthday party was held at a local salon where the girls could choose from services such as hair chalk, braids, or nails. Between services, they snacked on fruits, veggies, pizza, and of course, cheesecake.
Mom also provided a cute brick backdrop and wonky props which launched the party off in the right silly direction.
Cheesecake, hair chalk, and freshly painted nails with your besties. What’s not to love when you’re 11?