Monday, September 2, 2013

Lemon Cheesecake with Strawberry Basil Topping

It's Labor Day! In addition to a lovely day off of work, I typically spend Labor Day with my family--we have a cookout and invite lots of friends. We have a cookout or some kind of food-related party for every holiday, which gives me a reason to experiment and come up with new desserts to please the crowd :)
I think today's cheesecake did the trick! Packed full of tart lemon flavor and topped with juicy strawberries and fresh, spicy basil, this fresh cheesecake delivered all of my favorite elements of summer (even though it's September now...come on, fall weather!!)
Recipe adapted from here!


  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 packages of cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 cups sour cream, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • Zest and juice of 2 lemons
  • 3 large eggs, separated, room temperature
  • 1 cup fresh strawberries, halved
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Fresh basil leaves

Preheat oven to 350. Grease an 8 or 9-inch springform pan; set aside.

Make the crust by mixing all the crust ingredients together with a fork. Press the mixture onto the bottom of the spring form pan. Bake crust for 8 to 10 minutes. Set aside to cool. Turn down oven temperature to 300.

In a large bowl,  mix cream cheese, sour cream, sugar, vanilla extract, lemon zest and juice until combined. Add egg yolks, one at a time. Blend for another 2 minutes until well combined.In a clean bowl, whip the egg whites until stiff. Gently fold in the cream cheese mixture.

Pour the filling in the prepare pan. Tap the pan on counter a few times to release all the air in the batter. Position rack in the center of oven and place cheesecake on it. Place a shallow pan full of water on the lower rack in the oven. Bake for an hour, or until the edge of the cheesecake is puffed but the center is still wobbly and wet looking.  Turn off the oven with the door slightly opened, let the cheesecake sit in the oven to cool completely, at least an hour. Remove from the oven. Chill overnight.

To prepare the topping: 
In a large sauce pan, combine the strawberries, sugar and lemon juice and cook over a medium heat for 5 minutes, or until the sugar has melted and the mixture has thickened slightly. Remove the strawberries and continue to cook for another 5 minutes, or until the syrup has reduced by half. Remove the pan from the heat and let cool completely.
Spoon the strawberries and syrup over the cheesecake. Garnish with the basil leaves and serve.

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