Lemon Cheesecake w/ Strawberry Ganache

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For Mother’s Day, I wanted to bake a cheesecake since I had been on a run of cakes recently. Strawberry and lemon seem to be a winning flavor combination for my in-laws, so that’s where I started.

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Adding lemon flavor to the cheesecake was new, and I thought the cheesecake had a nice lemon flavor. I did notice that the texture was softer than in previous cheesecake attempts. There was added liquid with the lemon juice, but I also decided to alter the eggs (3 eggs + 2 yolks instead of 4 eggs) and added cornstarch to see if that would result in a creamier texture. I think my goal was accomplished, though I would want to try it again without the lemon juice to see how it compares.

I stumbled upon a cake crust recipe that I thought I’d try as well, though I was less of a fan. It made the cheesecake seem more light without a dense cookie crust, but I didn’t think the flavor was there, and I prefer the contrasting crunch to the creamy cheesecake.

I used the truffle ganache recipe to decorate a cheesecake once before, but thought that I would use dried strawberries to add flavor. Combined with the lemon cheesecake, there was a great flavor combination with every bite. However, I forgot how hard the ganache sets when chilled and wonder if the consistency would have been better using fresh strawberries (something to try!).

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My decorations did not go entirely as anticipated. I added a base layer of the ganache with no food coloring (that’s the color with just the dried strawberries). Then I colored the remainder of the ganache with red food coloring. I wanted to use a different tip than the one that I used, but the ganache contained just enough clumps of the dried strawberries that it got caught in the tip and piped terribly. I was able to change bags/tips, though, and I think it still came out pretty close to what I imagined.

LEMON CHEESECAKE W/ STRAWBERRY TRUFFLE GANACHE
Based on recipes found here, here, and here.

INGREDIENTS

Crust:
1/2 cup cake flour
6 tbsp. sugar, divided
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
3 tbsp. vegetable oil (or melted butter)
3 large eggs, separated
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar

Cheesecake:
24 oz. Philadelphia Original Cream Cheese, softened at room temperature
1 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp. sugar
1/3 cup juice from 2-3 lemons
2 tbsp. lemon zest
1/2 cup heavy cream (full fat)
15 oz. ricotta cheese (full fat)
3 large eggs + 2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
1 tbsp. cornstarch
2 tsp. vanilla

Strawberry Truffle Ganache:
14 oz. quality white chocolate chips
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
8 oz. mascarpone cheese
2 1.2 oz. packages of dried strawberries (Trader Joe’s)
Red food coloring, as desired

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. For the crust: Line the bottom of a 9″ springform pan with parchment paper. Lightly butter the pan.
  3. In a large bowl, beat flour, 2 tbsp. sugar, baking powder, salt, oil/butter, and egg yolks until combined.
  4. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites with cream of tartar until frothy. Gradually add remaining sugar while continuing to beat the egg whites, until the mixture has stiff peaks and is glossy.
  5. Gently fold the egg whites into the batter in three additions, then stir in the vanilla.
  6. Pour batter into the springform pan and bake for 15 minutes (or until cake tester comes out clean).
  7. Remove crust from oven, loosen edges with a knife, and set aside to cool while preparing filling.
  8. For the cheesecake: In food processor, process sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest until mixture is yellow and fragrant.
  9. Beat softened cream cheese, and heavy cream until smooth (maybe :30 to 1:00 or less). Add in eggs, cornstarch, vanilla, and ricotta, and mix until incorporated. Pour into prepared springform pan.
  10. Wrap bottom and sides of the springform pan with aluminum foil, and place it onto a baking sheet with 1″ raised edges. Place in oven, then pour hot water onto the baking sheet approximately 0.5-1″ up sides of springform pan (water bath).
  11. Bake for 90 minutes or until the top of the cheesecake begins to turn light brown. The sides will likely appear cooked, but the center of cheesecake will likely still be jiggly and will continue to cook/settle as the cheesecake cools out of the oven. Turn off the oven, but open the oven door slightly to allow the oven and the cheesecake to cool thoroughly.
  12. Once cheesecake has cooled completely, cover and chill in refrigerator overnight.
  13. For the topping: In a food processor, process dried strawberries as finely as possible. Add to a medium, heat-proof bowl with white chocolate chips
  14. Heat heavy cream to a simmer in a saucepan, then pour over white chocolate chips and strawberry dust. Cover bowl with plastic wrap to sit for 5-7 minutes.
  15. Whisk mixture until smooth, then cool 10-15 minutes.
  16. Add food coloring, as desired (I did two contrasts), and decorate as desired.
  17. Chill cheesecake until ready to serve.
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