Thursday, February 16, 2012

Cheesecake stuffed strawberries

People occasionally ask how I come up with titles for the posts.  As a rule of thumb, I generally try to save the title for last, after the story and recipe are typed.  That's the best way to ensure that it all ties together.  Makes perfect sense, right?

But, with any rule in my life, I'm bound to break it a few dozen times.  For instance, I labeled the draft of this post "Quickest strawberry cheesecake" before even jotting down the ingredients.  Major no-no.  This is one of those rare occasions that needs no borderline clever subject or catchy headline.  What's that crap about beauty in simplicity?  Yes, that :)

Indeed, this is one of those desserts that is truly ingenius in its minimalism!  Cheesecake. Stuffed. Strawberries.  Thank goodness for Pinterest, the ultimate time suck, which is where I first spotted these gems shared by Sugar Derby with the rest of the now-also-unproductive world.

I'd been waiting and waiting for an excuse to make these and finally picked Valentine's Day dinner for their official debut.  After all, Matt loves strawberries, so he'd totally dig these festive versions.  There are so many reasons to love this dessert, so let me count the ways:

1. Four basic ingredients. Ridic!
2. Same flavors as a much more laborious (and larger) classic dessert - cheesecake.
3. Five minutes from start to portable strawberry cheesecake reward finish.
4. Perfect sweet ending for 2 people or 20.
5. Can be made ahead of time.
6. I dare you to eat just one!  They're so incredibly poppable, but hey, it's fruit so you can forget the guilt.

You could even add "fun to make with hungry friends/spouses" to that list if you're not trying to wow said person when dinner is finished and dessert us up to bat.

Since I was working solo in the kitchen, I made myself a little assembly line.  Hollowed out berries, sandwich turned piping bag containing filling, graham cracker crumbs, and two ramekins for final plating.  Not pictured is the bit of extra filling and graham crackers that were tested for quality control.

Don't the filled strawberries remind you of little faceless cartoons with wigs?  Maybe hearts?  Just me?  'kay.   Regardless of my probably questionable Rorschach test answers, these turned out to be absolutely divine!

We enjoyed the flavors of one of our favorite desserts, cheesecake with fresh strawberries, without feeling like blimps after struggling to finish one super rich piece of cake.  Rather than something that you'll regret later, I think that dessert should always be a kind of sweet closure to the dining experience!  Sweet creamy cheesecake filling housed in juicy barely sweet with a touch of tart strawberries.  And the graham cracker crumbs really sent these over the edge.  How could anyone not love these little guys?!  Juuuuuuuust enough without being too much.

Thank goodness the ramekins only held three berries each!  We both agreed we could've polished off many, many more.  I suppose the fact that I only made six goes to show that I'm learning from my experiences.  I also learned that I need to buy some bigger ramekins... that would've been a great title, too, now that I think of it.

One year ago: Strawberry shortcake; Mexican chocolate shortbread
Two years ago: Olive oil bread

Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberries
(adapted from Sugar Derby's recipe)
-makes 20 or so

A few notes: I'm going to provide you with the original recipe from Sugar Derby because the quantities are more convenient.  However, know that I scaled down the recipe quite a bit when I made this for Valentine's Day because a) I didn't trust myself with 2 pounds of stuffed berries, and b) Matt didn't trust himself with the same.  What a match we are.  Anyway, feel free to start with a small amount of cream cheese and add sugar and cheese until you feel you've got enough for the amount of strawberries set aside.  If there's extra, stuff another strawberry; if you run out, don't.  No stress, no fuss.  The very essence of this dessert.

1 pound fresh strawberries
1 8-ounce package of 1/3 fat cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 sleeve (4 full sheets) graham crackers, crushed into crumbs

Wash and pat dry strawberries.  With a paring knife, cut out core

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