I love mason jars. I love strawberries. I love cheesecake. With Valentine's day on the horizon and with some recent inspiration from a local restaurant, I decided to whip up these Mason Jar Strawberry Cheesecakes with Fresh Whipped Cream and a Valentine's Day twist that can be easily adapted to serve year round.
These Mason Jar Strawberry Cheesecakes with Fresh Whipped Cream are a culmination of a few of my favorite things:
The Three Cities of Spain Cheesecake: This cheesecake is my favorite go-to recipe that features a basic cheesecake filling topped with a smooth, creamy layer of sour cream, sugar and vanilla. I find many cheesecake recipes to be too rich or dense. This cheesecake is delicious in its simplicity and is a sweet dessert that is offset and enhanced by a subtle sourness from the sour cream topping.
Strawberries: This berry is beautiful and delicious. I try to enjoy strawberries whenever I can find a fresh bundle.
Mason Jars: These vessels are cute and functional in many ways. Mason jars can serve as a baking dish, serving dish and storage dish all in one.
Fresh Whipped Cream: This fresh topping is easy to make and is well worth the marginal effort. Recently, my husband and I visited Range Chicago where we were served Pumpkin Cheesecake in Mason Jars topped with a fresh dollop of homemade whipping cream (tasted right off the Range). You typically see cheesecake adorned with a combination of fruits, chocolates, nuts and/or syrups, however, the simplicity of this fresh sweet whipping cream topping results in a comforting and satisfying dessert.
With these thoughts in mind, I developed the following Strawberry Cheesecake with Fresh Whipped Cream recipe to share with you.
Most strawberry cheesecake recipes feature a plain cheesecake filling topped with strawberry syrups and compotes. I often find these syrups and compotes to be heavy and overpowering. In this recipe, I use strawberry flavored cream cheese to incorporate the strawberry flavoring and coloring into the core filling of the cheesecake while leaving the topping to be a light, fresh whipping cream with a hint of sour cream. A light, yet sweet and satisfying dessert that can be enjoyed through all seasons.
In the spirit of Valentine's day this weekend, I enhanced the pink coloring with a little extra Rose Pink food gel and adorned the individual cheesecake with hand-piped dark chocolate hearts - a perfect pairing to strawberries.
STRAWBERRY CHEESECAKE WITH FRESH WHIPPED CREAM
- Yield: 1 cheesecake (9 1/2 inch spring-form pan) or approximately 16 mason jar cheesecakes
For the Cheesecake Crust
- 1 1/2 cups graham cracker or vanilla wafer crumbs, finely granulated
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
For the Strawberry Cheesecake Filling
- 2 (8 ounce) packages of strawberry cream cheese, softened
- 1 (8 ounce) package of plain cream cheese, softened
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (clear if available)
For the Fresh Whipped Cream
- 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream, chilled
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (clear if available)
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar
For the Chocolate Adornment
- 8 ounces of melting chocolate (dark or milk)
- heavy cream, as needed
- Heat the oven to 350 degrees (spring-form pan) 325 degrees (mason jars) and grease the cooking containers. Meanwhile, place a metal bowl and a hand mixer or stand mixer wire whisk attachments in the refrigerator to chill.
- To prepare the crust, combine cracker crumbs, melted butter, sugar and salt together. Firmly press crumbs into the bottom of the spring-form pan or individual mason jars.
- To prepare the filling, beat the cream cheeses with a stand mixer or hand mixer until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and continue to beat until combined. Add vanilla extract and sugar, and continue beating on low speed until each ingredient is fully incorporated, scraping down the bowl between additions.
- Pour the filling into the spring-form pan or divide between individual mason jars.
- Cooking the cheesecake with spring-form pan: Bake the cheesecake in the pre-heated oven for approximately 45 minutes or until cake is set (should be firm to the touch with a slight wobble when gently shaken). Turn off the heat in the oven and let the cheesecake continue to gently bake in the residual heat for an additional 10 minutes.
- Cooking the cheesecake with mason jars: Set mason jars in a deep ceramic baking dish or roasting pan and fill with approximately 1 inch of boiling water to create a water bath that helps cook the cheesecakes more evenly. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 40 minutes. Turn off the heat in the oven and let the cheesecakes continue to gently bake in the residual heat for an additional 20 minutes.
- Cool cheesecake(s) on a cooling rack. Do not worry if there are cracks in the cheesecake(s) as they will be covered by the fresh dollop of whipping cream.
- While baking, prepare the chocolate adornments, if desired, by melting chocolate in a double boiler. Add a tablespoon of heavy cream, as needed, to ensure that the chocolate maintains a smooth consistency. Once melted, fill a piping bag with a basic round tip (or cut in the bag). Pipe desired designs on wax paper, and chill in the freezer to set.
- Prepare the fresh whipped cream by mixing the whipping cream, sour cream, vanilla extract and powdered sugar in the chilled metal bowl on medium speed until stiff peaks form.
- Once cheesecake(s) are completely cooled, top with fresh whipped cream and garnish with fresh mint leaves and chocolate adornments.
- Serve immediately or keep chilled in the refrigerator for up to three days.
(Note: if you are preparing mason jars and have extra crust or batter, use a cupcake pan with cupcake liners to prepare additional mini cheesecakes. Cook for the same timeframe as the mason jars.)