This show-stopping Strawberry Cheesecake is rich, creamy and decadent!
1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup minus 1 tbsp. melted butter
2 pounds + 5 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
4 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
Zest of 1 lemon
1 tbsp. lemon juice
3/4 cup whipping cream (35%)
2 large pints strawberries, hulled, for finishing cheesecake
About 1/3 cup apricot jelly, for finishing cheesecake
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Mix graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter in bowl. Pat into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan evenly. Bake until lightly golden brown around the edges, about 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool slightly.
Preheat oven to 275 degrees F.
Put small baking dish with water on lower rack of oven. (This will keep the cheesecake moist as it bakes.)
Make a parchment collar to fit inside the springform pan. Cut two strips of parchment 24-inches x 8-inches. Then fit inside pan, overlapping pieces to create a sturdy collar. Secure with paperclips or staple. Set aside. (The parchment collar will help the cheesecake from sticking to the sides of the pan and therefore help prevent cracking.)
Beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition, just until incorporated. (Do not over beat, as this may cause the cheesecake to rise, fall and then crack.) Mix in vanilla, lemon zest and juice. Add cream and mix just until combined. Alternatively, mix cheesecake in food processor.
Pour cheesecake filling onto graham crust. Bake until cheesecake is just set but still soft and jiggly in the center, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Turn oven off and let cheesecake cool in oven, with the oven door ajar, about 1 to 2 hours. Remove from springform pan. Cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 12 to 14 hours before serving.
Top the cheesecake with whole strawberries.
Heat apricot jelly in saucepan over medium heat or microwave until melted and liquidy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Brush glaze over strawberries.
Yield: 10 to 12 servings.