Okay okay okay, this is a huge step for me but I finally did it. I officially conquered my fear of cheesecakes.
Let me phrase this better, I do not have a phobia of yummy calorific dairy desserts. I am terrified of making them. What if it cracks whilst baking? What if it doesn’t set in the fridge? What if it tastes nothing like the cheesecake from that really great cafe? These are the questions that haunt me whilst I sit at my desk wondering how I’m going to nail this next recipe idea.
‘You can’t do cheesecake. All your previous attempts have failed miserably. You can use those 2 tins of cream cheese to make a dip for some fries instead,’ my conscience says. ‘You’ll never be able to pull this one off.’ I take a deep breath and try to channel out the negative energy. You can do this. After pacing around the kitchen for an hour, I finally muster up the strength to pick up the whisk and attempt this cheesecake. 2 hours later, I’m asking myself why I was even doubting my abilities in the first place. It’s everything I ever wanted and yet more. I was a bit sceptical about abandoning the traditional Graham cracker base for a shortbread base, and I wasn’t 100% sure that the pattern would come out clearly but hey, I did it. I SUCCESSFULLY MADE A CHEESECAKE.
You too, can experience happiness and accomplishment through trying this recipe. There’s a lesson here friends: do not be afraid of failure, you will surprise even yourself when you just decide to try. Try and give your best effort always, you will never know if you don’t try.
Strawberry Cheesecake Swirl Bars
For the shortbread base:
- 2 and ½ cups all purpose flour
- 1 cup icing sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cup butter
- 1 egg
- 2 tbsp ice water
For the cheesecake layer:
- Two 8 oz packages of plain cream cheese
- ½ cup castor sugar
- ½ cup sour cream (may sub Greek yogurt for healthier taste)
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
For the strawberry swirl:
- 1 cup strawberries, hulled and quartered
- 2 tbsp water
- 2 tbsp castor sugar
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp cornflour + 1 tsp cold water
Start with the strawberry swirl:
In a blender, combine the strawberries, water, lemon juice and sugar. Blitz until no large chunks of strawberry remain. Add the contents of the blender to a saucepan and gently warm the strawberry puree. Once boiling, add in the cornflour and stir until thickened. Remove from heat and let cool whilst you prepare the cheesecake bars.
Then move onto the cheesecake:
- Preheat your oven to 180°C/350°F. Grease and line a 9×13 baking dish with parchment paper. Sift the flour, icing sugar and salt into a large bowl and toss to combine. Cut the butter into the dry mixture until you have a crumbly dough. Crack the egg into the mixture, pour in the ice water and stir until fully mixed and you have a uniform colour and there are no streaks of egg yolk. Turn the shortbread crust into the prepared baking dish. Press the dough into an even layer in the pan and prick all over with a fork. Bake for 10 minutes or until the crust is just starting to turn golden brown. Remove from the oven and set aside.
- Whilst the crust is baking, add the cream cheese to a medium bowl and whisk until smooth. Add the sugar and whip into the cream cheese. Pour in the fresh cream and stir until incorporated. Add in the egg, vanilla essence and lemon juice and whisk until just combined. Be careful not to overmix lest you get cracks in the cheesecake.
- When the crust has finished baking, pour the cheesecake mixture over the shortbread base. Dollop tablespoons of the puréed strawberries over the cream cheese mixture. Use the tip of a knife or a toothpick to swirl a pattern over the surface of the cream cheese, being careful not to scrape the shortbread base. Bake the cheesecake for 30 minutes.
- Once the time has elapsed, switch off the oven but do not open the oven door. I repeat: DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN DOOR. This is for your own safety and for that of the cheesecake, it is to ensure you do not get any cracks that will spoil the wonderful wonderful pattern you made. I waited about another 30 minutes before removing the cheesecake and transferring to the fridge for an hour. Only then you can slice the cheesecake into 12 bars. Enjoy the fact that you have conquered the cheesecake!
Psssssst, once you’ve gotten over the excitement of making this yummy cheesecake, try your hand at this Chocolate Lover’s Fudge Brownie Cheesecake. It is TO DIE FOR.