I know that Wimbledon season doesn’t necessarily mean strawberry season for some. It’s not as if we have been on an exclusive strawberry diet for the past ten days! I just have to reserve a place for them in my kitchen right now. At one time I had so many I just didn’t know what to do with them. For a change I couldn’t bother with a gazillion recipes this year, so I just went to one lady for advice, the incredible Deb Perelman. I cannot think of any foodie who doesn’t know the name Smitten Kitchen. I have been a fan of this blog for a long time and goodness knows how many times I have visited for some much needed inspiration. It also makes a good read and the photos look great.
Now I finally have the book. I have been so looking forward to holding it in my hands that I did a little dance when it arrived in the post. It’s been around for quite some time so I had to get cooking to try to keep up. So I went ahead and made Deb’s strawberry cheesecake fools. I never made a cheesecake before, neither a fool for that matter,
though I know of many, so this recipe was a good place to start. It seemed simple enough (this positive outlook changed by the end of the process though) and having done something similar before I thought I would give them a shot, and here they are. I modified slightly the method, the way it worked for me. I thought I would insert the photos as we go along; it helped me break down the method and I hope this will help you too.
- 450g strawberries (give or take a few grams)
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
For the fruit mixture, wash, hull and cut the strawberries into quarters or half if they are smallish in size. Put them in a heavy-based medium to large saucepan, together with the sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice. Give them a stir and let them stand for around 15 minutes, gently mixing them once in a while.
Turn on the hob to medium heat and let the strawberries simmer. Cook for not more than 3 minutes. Take them off the heat, put them in a bowl and let them cool for a while before covering and putting them in the fridge to chill well, for around 2 hours.
Strain the strawberry mixture using a sieve over a small bowl to collect some of the juice. You will need 50ml for later*.
Sugar cookie crumble:
- 60g digestive biscuits (5 to 6 – just eyeball it, you’ll be fine)
- 30g soft light brown sugar
- pinch or two of cinnamon
To prepare the cookie crumb mixture, put the digestive biscuits, brown sugar and cinnamon into a food processor and grind. If you prefer you can also topple the ingredients into a freezer bag and bash them with a meat pounder or a rolling pin. Whatever works for you!
Whipped cream cheese:
- 175ml whipping cream
- 170g cream cheese, at room temperature
- 25g sugar
- pinch salt (optional)
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
To make the creams, in a large bowl mix well the soft cream cheese, sugar, salt and vanilla extract, until smooth. Remove around 100ml of this cheese mixture and set aside. In another bowl beat the whipping cream with an electric beater till you get stiff peaks. Remember the reserved 50ml of that glorious strawberry juice?* It’s now time to fold it gently into the larger amount of the cheese and cream mixture.
For the assemblage, you need roughly 6 x 100ml tall glasses, (though my mixture had a mind of its own and increased by, oh I don’t know…a lot! So I used assorted ones and even a couple of ramekins.) Start layering like so: 1 tablespoon of the strawberry mixture, 1 tablespoon of the biscuit crumbs, 3 tablespoons of the pink cream cheese mixture, 1 tablespoon crumbs and 1 tablespoon of strawberry mixture. Repeat the process and top the glasses with the remaining white cream and frankly whatever’s left.
Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes and eat. They will also keep for 3 days, if preparing ahead.
The kitchen will be a mess by the end of it…well, mine was anyway, and it was a little bit of a faff. I don’t know whether I would want to make this again. If I ever do it’s because it tastes so darn good! Perhaps next time I could forget the fancy pink cream cheese mixture and keep it white. No need to reserve any strawberry juices then. It will probably be soggy but I wouldn’t mind. It will look pretty anyway, and by the end of the process the whole thing (or rather one *cough* portion) will be gone! Enjoy the tennis and have a great weekend!