In these dog days of summer where temps can reach over 100 degrees, the last thing anyone wants to do is get in a hot kitchen. Even with central air, it’s not a Top 10 favorite thing to do.
That’s when this romantically delicious treat comes to the rescue. The extra time it takes to set versus bake will be well worth the wait.
I love summer, and strawberries, for me, scream summer. I think the sweetest strawberries arrive in late July to early August, which is why I waited until now to feature this recipe. Cheesecake is a huge weakness for me. Then to go the extra mile by adding a chocolate covered strawberry at its sweetest and juiciest time, is love in a dessert.
If you don’t like strawberries, or have an allergy, don’t fret. You can make this no-bake cheesecake without any fruit or any kind of fruit you want.
Most of my recipes are super versatile and delicious no matter what version you choose to create. You could even use a different chocolate or replace the chocolate with a jam, or honey, or even your own homemade caramel glaze (see my recipe from July). The possibilities are immense.
What’s not to love about this dessert? It has all the elements that make a great treat in this one dessert.
Let’s start at the bottom and work our way up, shall we? So, you have the buttery, crunchy, sweet and saltiness of the homemade graham cracker crust as the vehicle for the cool, creamy, sweet — yet tart — brightness of the cheesecake that pairs decadently with the bittersweetness of the chocolate that covers the firm-ripeness of the sweet and beautiful crimson strawberry.
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Although this dessert will need to be kept cold, it still is a great summer dessert for picnics, parties, family gatherings and as a snack while watching your favorite show. Although my recipe showcases the No-Bake Chocolate- Covered Strawberry Cheesecake in a pie form, you can certainly make yours more elegant and creative by using a silicon mold. You can find them on most shopping sites or your favorite craft/party store. I’m even contemplating making this recipe into a cake pop-type presentation. Don’t be afraid to be creative with your culinary art.
I would love to see what you create from my recipes. A shout-out to all of you who have sent me your pictures, those of you who have posted your culinary art on my Facebook page and for all of you who follow my column. It is greatly appreciated and extremely encouraging to me. I am humbled by this entire experience. From the ingredients to the presentation as well as the thought that is put into writing the article, this is a process I enjoy. Writing has made me fall in love with my passion of cooking and baking on a new level.
Now that I’ve gotten all sappy, let’s roll up those sleeves, wash those hands and get started creating your next culinary art to wow your family, friends and yourself.
No-Bake Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Cheesecake
• 2 packages (about 20 sheets) graham crackers
• 11 tablespoons salted (or unsalted butter)
• 2 tablespoons sugar
• 2 8-ounces package of cream cheese at room temperature (to save time you can microwave them 10 seconds at a time to soften them up)
• 1 14-ounce can (1 1/4 cups) sweetened condensed milk
• 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1 package of chocolate melts (can use almond bark or chocolate chips)
• 12 large strawberries (at least)
Put graham crackers in a large Ziploc bag to crush them using a rolling pin until you have very fine crumbs.
Pour crumb mixture into a medium bowl; stir in sugar and then add butter. Stir until well combined.
Press crumb mixture into a 9-inch pie pan or spring form pan, which is what I used for this recipe. Spread the mixture 1 1/2 to 2 inches up the side of pan, pressing it flat. Freeze for 10 minutes.
In a large bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, then add the sweetened condensed milk a little at a time still using the mixer while scraping the sides down as needed. Lastly, beat in the lemon juice and vanilla.
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Clean the strawberries by wiping with a damp napkin and then cut the tops off; place them upside down on parchment paper.
Melt chocolate and spoon over the strawberries to cover completely; refrigerate for 10 minutes.
Place chocolate-covered strawberries upside down to line the bottom of the pie pan.
Pour filling into the pie pan (its OK if you don’t cover the strawberries as it can add to your culinary art) being sure to level the filling with a rubber spatula; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 2 1/2 to 3 hours.
Unclasp sides of pan and remove cheesecake to reveal your beautiful and delicious creation.
Source: Michelle Madden