I’ve never been a huge fan of cheesecake. It’s always seemed really heavy and often overly sweet. Plus, if you give me the option of chocolate anything vs cheesecake, I’m going with chocolate every time. But I have a basil plant in my backyard that’s still sending up tons of basil, and when I started going through basil-friendly recipe options, I ran across something that intrigued me. It’s a recipe for a Goat Cheese Cheesecake with Strawberries and Basil from Tyler Florence. It’s not something I would usually make, but it sort of sounded like a good farewell to summer (although we’re in a perpetual heat wave here, so more like a farewell summer part one). And guess what, it was super easy to make and super delicious.
I wish I could say it was healthy, but come on..it’s cheesecake. So this recipe is best for occasions when you’ll be sharing it with several people, not for days that it’ll just be sitting around in your fridge staring at you (as it is now). Having never made a cheesecake, I didn’t realize how easy they are to make. You can do all the prep in a food processor (if you’re going to invest in one, the bigger the better), and the only tricky bit is the water bath. You will need a few special tools, specifically a springform pan, and a large roasting pan for the cake to take it’s bath in. You’ll want to make sure your roasting pan has high sides – at least 2″ high – so that when you surround your cake with water you don’t flood the kitchen.
- 10 ounces of graham crackers
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
- 4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
- 4 ounces goat cheese, at room temperature
- 1 pint sour cream, at room temperature
- 3 eggs, at room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- Zest and juice of 1 lemon (if you can find a meyer lemon, use it!)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 6 ounces fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced lengthwise
- ¼ cup sugar
- Juice of 2 lemons
- 2 ounces Grand Marnier (or oj if you're out)
- ½ cup fresh basil leaves, torn right before you serve it (they brown quickly)
- Preheat oven to 325F.
- Heat 6 cups of water in a kettle or a large pan. Set aside.
- Ensure that your springform pan is set up correctly - they leak if the bottom isn't clipped in appropriately - and wrap the outside of the pan in several layers of heavy duty aluminum foil. You want to make sure hot water doesn't get into the pan while it's cooking.
- In your food processor, combine the graham crackers, cinnamon, and melted butter and process until everything is finely ground, moist, and holds together slightly.
- Press your graham cracker mix into the bottom of the springform pan and spread evenly. Use a heavy juice glass to press the bottom flat. Chill the crust uncovered until your filling is ready.
- In your food processor, add the cream cheese, goat cheese, sour cream, eggs, vanilla, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Process, scraping down the sides, until it's smooth and creamy.
- Pour the mixture into your prepared springform pan.
- Place your roasting pan on the oven rack and set your cheesecake pan in the middle of the larger pan. Fill the larger pan (carefully) with the hot water - enough to be about 1½" inches deep.
- Bake for 45 minutes. It's done when the edges are firm but the middle is still a bit wiggly. Remove it from the water bath and let it cool in the pan for 45 minutes on your counter.
- Once it's cool, pop it out of the springform pan and chill uncovered in the fridge.
- For the sauce, in a large saucepan, mix the strawberries, sugar, lemon juice, and Grand Marnier and cook over medium heat for five minutes, or until the sugar has melted and the mixture has thickened slightly. Remove the strawberries with a slotted spoon and keep cooking the syrup for another three to five minutes - until it has reduced by half. Remove from the pan and let cool.
- To serve, spoon the strawberries and syrup over the cheesecake and garnish with the fresh basil.
If you’re like me and prefer a thicker crust on your pies and cheesecakes, you can throw a few extra graham crackers into the crust mix. Make sure it’s still moist enough to hold together – if it’s not, add in a smidge more butter to make sure you have the right consistency. The recipe calls for about 1/4″ of a crust – you’ll see mine is a bit more.
The cheesecake should last up to a week in the fridge. Keep it tightly covered in plastic wrap to keep it from drying out. You can also freeze the cheesecake (don’t make the topping until you’re going to serve it) to keep it for longer. Let it thaw in the fridge overnight or on your counter at room temperature for 2 hours.