My husband, friends and family think I'm weird because I usually insist on making my own birthday cake. For someone who loves to cook and bake I don't think it's that strange of a request to make my own dessert. Plus, I know it will be good! This year, in spite of Brandon's slight protests, I decided to try to make my first cheesecake. Total success. Thanks, Taste of Home magazine!
STRAWBERRY + CHAMPAGNE CHEESECAKE (serves 12)
1 c champagne
2 c chocolate graham cracker crumbs (about 14 whole crackers)
2 c sugar, divided
1/2 c butter, melted
2-2.5 c sliced fresh strawberries
24 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 c sweetened condensed milk
2 T cornstarch
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 egg yolks
1/3 c milk chocolate chips
1 t shortening, divided
1/2 c white chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 325 degrees and grease a 9-inch springform pan. Place champagne in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook for about 8 minutes, until liquid is reduced to around 1/4 c. In a large bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, 1/2 c sugar and butter. Press onto the bottom and 1.5 inch up the sides of your springform pan. Arrange 1 c sliced strawberries on the bottom of the pan.
In a large bowl, beat softened cream cheese and remaining 1.5 c sugar until smooth. Beat in sweetened condensed milk, cornstarch, and champagne. Add eggs and egg yolks and beat on low speed until just combined. Pour into pan, over strawberries. Place pan on a baking sheet.
Bake for 55-60 minutes or until center is almost set. Loosen sides of pan and cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Carefully run a knife around the edge of the pan and cool one hour longer. Refrigerate overnight.
Remove sides of springform pan. Pat dry remaining strawberry slices and arrange on top of cheesecake. In a microwave, melt milk chocolate chips with 1/2 t shortening. Stir until smooth. Drizzle over cheesecake. Repeat with white chocolate chips. (You'll notice in the photo that I had difficulty melting my white chocolate so I ended up crumbling up some and throwing it on top. It looks like feta cheese!) Store in refrigerator until serving.
Slice cheesecake while chilled, then allow slices to come to room temperature before you eat. Enjoy!