Individual Strawberry Cheesecakes with Aged Balsamic Vinegar

posted: 06/30/10
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Individual Strawberry Cheesecakes with Aged Balsamic Vinegar


For the crust:

  • 5 1/2 ounces/155 g digestive cookies or biscotti
  • 4 tablespoons/55 g melted unsalted butter

For the filling:

  • Two 8-ounce/226-g packages cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup/235 g cottage cheese, strained
  • 1/2 cup/160 ml sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/4 cup/50 g granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/4 cup/55 ml water
  • 1 teaspoon/less than 5 g unflavored gelatin
  • 8 fresh strawberries, hulled, finely chopped

For the topping:

  • 1/3 cup/75 ml water
  • 1/4 cup/50 g granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon/15 ml fresh lemon juice
  • 12 ounces/350 g fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered
  • 2 teaspoons/10 ml 10- to 20-year aged balsamic vinegar


To prepare the crust:

  1. Line the bottoms and sides of four 4-inch/10-cm-diameter round or heart-shaped springform pans (each pan should hold 1 1/4 cups/280 ml) with parchment paper. Finely grind the cookies in a food processor. Alternatively, the cookies can be finely crushed with a rolling pin.
  2. Blend the butter into the crumbs to form a moist sandy texture. Press the crumb mixture evenly over the bottom (not the sides) of the prepared pans.
  3. Refrigerate the crusts while preparing the filling. For crusts that are more crisp, place the pans on a baking sheet and bake the crusts at 350?F/180?C for 18 minutes or until they are pale golden brown, then cool completely before filling.

To prepare the filling:

  1. Blend the cream cheese in a food processor until smooth and creamy, scraping down the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl occasionally to ensure that no lumps remain. Add the cottage cheese and continue to blend until smooth and creamy.
  2. Add the sweetened condensed milk, sugar and egg yolk and blend well. Set aside. Place the water in a small saucepan. Sprinkle the gelatin over the water and let stand for 5 minutes or until the gelatin softens. Stir the gelatin mixture over a medium heat for about 1 1/2 minutes or until the gelatin dissolves.
  3. With the food processor running, slowly pour the hot melted gelatin mixture through the feed tube and into the cream cheese mixture in a thin stream. Continue to process to ensure the gelatin is very well blended. Transfer the cream cheese mixture to a bowl and stir in the strawberries. Spoon the cream cheese mixture into the prepared p ans, dividing equally.
  4. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours or until the cheesecakes are cold and set. Unlock and remove the pan sides and the parchment paper from the cheesecakes. Remove the cheesecakes from pan bottoms and transfer to individual serving plates. You can use a small knife to smooth the sides of the cheesecakes, if necessary.

To prepare the topping:

  1. Place a medium saucepan over a medium to high heat. Add the water, sugar and lemon juice and simmer gently for 2 minutes or until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is syrupy. Add the strawberries and remove from heat.
  2. Gently stir the mixture, allowing the strawberry mixture to cool. The strawberries will soften slightly and flavor the syrup as it cools. Spoon the strawberry mixture over and around the individual cheesecakes. Drizzle the balsamic vinegar over the cheesecakes and serve.
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