Cooking at home on Valentine’s Day is a lovely opportunity to skip the crowds, the restaurant floors with identical two-seaters as far as the eye can see, and the half-hearted and overpriced prix fixe Valentine’s Day menus. Stay in, cook together, watch an old movie with a silly amount of transatlantic accents, and definitely enjoy this strawberry sumac cheesecake.
Berry season is in full swing down here in Australia, but it’s gonna be a while before strawberries are back in season for most of the US. But when I think of Valentine’s Day dessert, I always think strawberries, so I usually end up finding a way to incorporate them while doing a little something extra to emphasize their flavor. The nice thing about this recipe is that the sumac gives the strawberries a bit of extra berry flavor and tartness, so even if you’re working with sad February berries, you’ll be doing a little extra something to bring out the best in them. Think strawberry rhubarb flavor in the middle of winter.
You can also totally use frozen berries for the puréed glaze that goes on top, which will add some peak-strawberry flavor to the whole cake. While frozen berries’ texture isn’t ideal for enjoying whole, they are usually much more flavorful than fresh ones in the middle of winter, and work great in any puréed applications. Plus, you can use leftover frozen berries + chocolate milk to make smoothies next Saturday morning. Maybe even blend in a piece of leftover cheesecake if you’re feeling it.Print
strawberry sumac cheesecake
loosely adapted from this King Arthur Flour Recipe
- Prep Time: 30 minutes
- Total Time: 4 hours
- Yield: 8 standard or 12 small pieces
for the cheesecake:
- 24 Biscoff Lotus cookies (185g)*
- 4 tablespoons butter, melted (55g), plus more for coating the pan
- 1 tablespoons sugar (15g)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt (1g)
- 2 8-oz packages cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 2 large eggs (110g)
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar (135g)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt (1.5g)
- 16 oz small strawberries (455g)**
for the glaze:
- 8oz medium strawberries (227g)
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch (10g)
- 1/2 cup sugar (100g)
- 2 tablespoons sumac (10g)
- For the cheesecake: Preheat the oven to 350° F convection (177° C).
- Finely grind the cookies in a food processor.
- Add the melted butter, sugar, and salt, and process until everything is well-blended.
- Lightly coat the sides of an 8 or 9-inch cheesecake round with oil or butter. Place the crumbly crust in the cheesecake round, and press it down into 1 even layer. Use a glass, measuring cup, or something else that has a flat bottom to press it compactly.
- Place the cheesecake round on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 10 minuters. Let it cool a little while you work on the filling, and leave the oven on.
- Whisk the cream cheese, eggs, sugar, and salt together until completely smooth (whisk slowly so you don’t incorporate too much air).
- Pour the filling into the crust.
- Bake for about 30 minutes, until it’s just a little jiggly in the very center. Remove from the oven and let it cool to room temperature, then let it chill for at least 3 hours until it’s completely cold.
- Once it’s chilled, remove from the pan and place on a serving tray.
- Cut the tops off the strawberries, and then place them cut-side-down on the cheesecake.
- For the glaze: Hull the 8 oz of strawberries and place them with the cornstarch, sugar, and sumac in a small saucepan, and use an immersion blender to process until smooth (or use a food processor).
- Bring the puree to a simmer over medium-high heat. Simmer for about 1-2 minutes until the cornstarch activates and it thickens. Remove from heat and strain through a fine mesh sieve. Once you’re ready to use it, add a few drops of water and rewarm in the microwave until it’s a brushable consistency.
- Brush the strawberries generously with the glaze.
* Feel free to instead use graham crackers. Just use 1 tablespoon more butter with them.
** If you don’t have small strawberries, no worries—hull and slice them, and fan them out in a pretty design on the surface instead.
To store and make ahead: This keeps super well in the fridge. If you’re making it for guests, you can make it about 12-24 hours ahead of time and chill it (you might want to brush it with the glaze at the last moment, so it doesn’t get messed up from cling wrap). After a day or so, the strawberries will start weeping a little, but the leftovers are still amazing. If you want to store it longer, it freezes beautifully. I like to individually wrap them in plastic wrap, and then freeze. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight.