Nothing quite says spring to me like the arrival of fresh, ripe, sweet strawberries. Their vibrant color, intense flavor and charming shape make me think that if there ever was a time to use the word 'bodacious' when describing fruit, this would be it! What better way to celebrate this beautiful season than with a gorgeous (and may I say sexy?) dessert that flaunts the beguiling strawberry.
...a kind of strawberries and cream redux...(warning, ellipsis overdose ahead)
...that gives the fresh strawberry the leading role...
...while the strawberry puree in the cheesecake base is more the quiet ingenue.
The thin, cookie-crumb base is a crunchy, crisp texture foil to all that dramatic goodness going on above.
Gingersnaps were used here, but any cookie, cracker or nut crust could fill in as an understudy.
The gingersnaps were a nice compliment to the sweetness from the strawberries, and I had some leftover ginger syrup in the fridge, which I used to give the berries a sultry glaze and shine, so the two flavors paired nicely together.
Sexy, bodacious and delectable...a screen siren of a different sort!
10 ounces plain goat cheese
4 ounces mascarpone cheese
1/3 cup natural sugar (fine granules), or to taste
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 cup strawberry puree (see below)
2 eggs, large
Whole strawberries for garnish
1 cup fresh, ripe, sweet strawberries, chopped (you could use frozen but only if very high quality and flavor)
2 tbs natural sugar
2 tbs freshly squeezed orange juice (or bottled if in a pinch)
1 1/2 cups cookie crumbs of choice (I used ground ginger snaps)
2 tbs natural sugar
2 tbs almond oil, butter or fat of choice (melted coconut oil works well)
1/2 tsp ground cardamom, optional
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Prepare the puree: Place strawberry pieces in a small saucepan with the other puree ingredients. Bring to a gentle boil and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the strawberries soften, approximately 10 minutes. Crush berries with a fork. Set aside to cool completely. The mixture should be thick. Reserve/drain some of the juices if your berries are excessively watery.
Prepare the crust: In a medium size mixing bowl, stir all the crust ingredients together. Divide between individual tart pans or pour into one large tart pan. Flatten with a spoon. Bake for approximately 6 to 8 minutes. Once done, set aside to cool while you make the filling.
Prepare the filling: In a large mixing bowl, beat the goat cheese and mascarpone cheese on medium speed until smooth. Add the sugar and almond extract, scraping down the sides of the bowl and the paddle frequently; mix until smooth. Add the eggs slowly, one at a time, beating well after each addition, scraping down the sides of the bowl and paddle. Add the strawberry puree and stir until just incorporated and the strawberries are broken down. Carefully pour the filling into your pan of choice. Bake for 15 minutes or until set. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack until completely cool, then place in the refrigerator. Refrigerate several hours before serving, even over night.
To serve: Cut the stems off of enough strawberries to cover the top of the tart. I glazed mine with some leftover ginger syrup (which complemented the gingersnap crust), or you could use simple syrup or melted apricot preserves. Place the glazed (or naked) strawberries cut-side down on the tart. Enjoy!