A decadent triple layer cheesecake that is light, fruity, sweet, and tangy. You’ll love the sneaky addition of fresh strawberries in the cheesecake, the fluffiness of the creamy white chocolate mousse, and the ease of the sweet strawberry gel. Perfect for any special summer occasion!
Yesterday was my mom’s birthday. Since I was away in Australia for her birthday last year, I knew I had to create something special to make up for it this year.
The strawberries this year have been phenomenal and incredibly affordable. Since I’ve moved back home, I’ve consumed four large punnets so far with no intention of letting up as long as the sales hold out. They’re one of my absolute favourite fruits and something I look forward to every summer. I try to incorporate them in every dish possible, such as my morning oats, or an afternoon salad, or even in a tart pork chop glaze at dinner time. There is no end to the possibilities these with these sweet berries. Of course, there’s also the tried and true summer staple: strawberry cheesecake!
Although my mom loves a good carrot cake as much as I do, I’m very firm in my belief that cheesecake is her favourite cake. Where I can get overwhelmed by the heavy intensity of the cream cheese, she can eat two slices and won’t feel overfull. It’s a gift, I guess. Therefore, it seemed the obvious decision to make her a cheesecake for her birthday cake. I already had two punnets of plump, juicy strawberries waiting to be eaten in the fridge, so I also knew it had to be a strawberry flavoured.
But that seemed a tad boring. I couldn’t just make my mom any old strawberry cheesecake. (Although I’m sure she would have happily eaten that as well.) Plus, I’m not a huge fan of thick, dense, gigantic cheesecakes. I find them way too heavy, especially after an afternoon or evening of party munching. I decided to lighten it up by adding a layer of white chocolate mousse and some fresh strawberry gel. Perfect!
To freshen up the vanilla cheesecake, I added some thinly sliced strawberries to the batter before baking. Since cheesecake batter is quite thick, the strawberries “float” in the cake quite well. The key is to not over mix the batter. A few quick folds to disperse the strawberries does the trick. The cheesecake layer is creamy and soft – just the way a cheesecake should be. But the white chocolate mousse layer is my favourite layer. It is the perfect accompaniment to the heavy cheesecake; it lightens the entire dish and the white chocolate adds a touch of decadence and a sweetness to combat the cream cheese tang. The strawberry gel on top is the proverbial cherry. It’s that little fruity something-something that was missing. Don’t let the word “gel” intimidate you – it’s super simple and makes a huge difference in the taste of the cake.
I hope you love this cake as much as my mom did.
Happy birthday, Mom!
- 1½ cups honey graham cracker crumbs
- 85g unsalted butter, melted
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- 450g cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tbsp corn starch
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup fresh strawberries, thinly sliced
- 2 cups heavy (whipping) cream
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- ¼ cup confectioner's sugar
- 225g cream cheese, at room temperature
- 228g good quality white chocolate
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ¾ cup water
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1½ cup fresh, ripe strawberries, roughly diced
- ½ tbsp powdered gelatine
- To make the crust, preheat the oven to 300 F (150 C) and very lightly grease the base of a 10" spring form pan. To a medium bowl, add the graham cracker crumbs, butter, and sugar. Mix together well with a spatula until the butter is fully combined. The mixture should appear sandy. Add the mixture to the pan and press down firmly, making sure to distribute it evenly across the base of the pan. Bake the crust for 10 minutes then set aside to cool.
- To make the cheesecake, raise the oven temperature to 350 F (180 C). Add the cream cheese to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat the cream cheese on medium speed until it appears fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the sour cream and beat for 1 minute then add the sugar, corn starch, and vanilla. Continue to mix until combined and smooth. Do not over mix. Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold in the sliced strawberries. Pour the cheesecake batter into the cooled crust and smooth the top. Bake the cheesecake layer for 35 minutes, or until the edges are set (they will look a bit dry) and the middle still wobbles slightly. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 1 hour.
- To make the mousse, exchange the paddle attachment for the whisk attachment and affix a clean bowl to the stand mixer. In the bowl, beat the cream, vanilla, and confectioner's sugar together until stiff peaks form. Carefully pour the whipped cream into a separate bowl and refrigerate while you finish mixing the remaining ingredients. Exchange the whisk attachment for a clean paddle attachment and then beat the cream cheese on medium speed until fluffy. Meanwhile, melt the white chocolate over a double boiler. Once the cream cheese is aerated, slowly add the melted chocolate with the mixer on a low speed. After all the chocolate has been added, increase the speed to medium and beat for 1 minute until fully incorporated. Remove the bowl from the mixer and gently fold in the reserved whipped cream. Pour the mousse over the cooled cheesecake layer, smooth the top, and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
- Once the mousse has solidified, make the gel. Place the diced strawberries in a bowl and mash with a fork until they form a rough purée. In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, add the sugar, water, and lemon juice. Whisk the mixture gently until the sugar dissolves. Once the sugar has dissolved, add the strawberry mash and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes. After the sauce has simmered, mash again with either a potato masher or a fork until it thickens slightly and no large chunks remain. Bring the heat up again and add the gelatine powder. Whisk the mixture until the gelatine disappears, about 4 minutes, then remove the pot from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Do not attempt to add the hot strawberry mixture to the cake until it has cooled or it will melt the mousse. Once the sauce has cooled, pour it over the mousse layer, smooth the top, and refrigerate overnight.