Say “Cheese” or maybe “Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberries with Chocolate Ganache”, please.
What is Valentine’s Day without Chocolate? It’s an incomplete Valentine; that’s what I say. Add strawberries and cheesecake and do you know what you have?
Yes, guilt. “Why, oh why, did I eat that piece of cheesecake with strawberries and all that lovely chocolate?” “What was I thinking to indulge in two pieces of that beautiful chocolatey cheesecake with those gorgeous strawberries?” “Does that cheesecake with chocolate and strawberries make me look fat?” And on and on it goes.
I have been trying to lose some weight and it is not easy around here with all this good food constantly coming out of the kitchen. So, I wanted to come up with something for V-Day that would be a little decadent but yet light enough so that I wouldn’t feel guilty for the next three days. I poked around the internet and I saw a couple of recipes for light cheesecake with strawberries that just didn’t wow me. Then I thought maybe, just maybe, a cheesecake stuffed stawberry would work. I could have a little bit of real cheesecake and a little bit of chocolate with a fresh juicy whole strawberry.
I asked Yes!Chef! to pick up some big, juicy looking strawberries, which he did. Before I could start my dessert idea, it snowed a little and I couldn’t resist taking some strawberries in the snow pics.
My best friend, who grew up in Maine, says that she used to eat strawberries and snow when she was growing up. I credit her for inspiring these photos.
So, back to the recipe. There are lots of “No Bake Cheesecake” recipes on the web that you can find, but they are all pretty much the same. Here’s the recipe that I used:
Mrs. Y!C!’s No Bake Cheesecake Filling
2 8oz. packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 14 0z. can sweetened condensed milk (or make your own if you have lots of time.)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-2 pints Strawberries, washed, hulled and sliced in half
Place the cream cheese in a mixer and blend until smooth and creamy. Slowly pour in sweetened condensed milk a little at a time while the mixer is on. Add fresh lemon juice and vanilla and mix until smooth. This makes more than you will need, so you can cut everything in half, if you would like. But I have a great way to use up the extra, so you might want to read to the end.
Also, you need to make a little graham cracker crumb mixture to sprinkle on the top of the dessert.
1 package graham crackers
1-2 tablespoons sugar
5 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 tsp. salt (I prefer Kosher or sea salt)
Whirl crackers around in food processor until it becomes crumbs. Add the sugar, butter and salt and whirl around until thoroughly blended.
That’s it. I didn’t have any sweetened condensed milk, so I found a recipe on the web for homemade sweetened condensed milk and used that. It takes a long time to make it (2 hours), but it did work well and I think it tasted fresher. If you are interested in the recipe, go here.
Once I made the cheesecake, I put it in a clean zip lock bag (or you can put it in a cake piping bag with a smallish tip) and put it in the fridge until I was ready to pipe it onto the strawberries. Y!C! found some wonderfully sweet strawberries.
He also suggested that I cut the strawberries into several (3-4) layers and then pipe cheesecake onto each layer…like tiny little strawberry shaped layer cakes. I considered that suggestion for a few seconds and then pronounced him a little crazy if he thought I was going to do that. Right?
So, I sliced the strawberries in half, cut a tiny little hole in the end of the zip lock bag and piped the cheesecake filling onto one half and then put the halves back together again. None of that layering nonsense. I would still be there layering and piping if I took that advice.
I had a package of those wonderful little ceramic tasting spoons, which I thought would be a great way to deliver the strawberry cheesecake bites. I took about 1 tablespoon of graham cracker mixture and placed it on the bottom of the spoon. then I topped it with a stuffed strawberry. I initially thought I would sprinkle more crumbs on the top of the berries and then pour a little ganache over the top. But, it worked out better (and looked much more attractive) with the chocolate dripped on first and then sprinkle the crumbs over the top.
Now for the ganache.
Mrs. Y!C!’s Chocolate Ganache
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
4-5 tablespoons heavy cream
Put the chocolate chips into a microwave safe container. Microwave 1 minute on 50% power. Remove. Stir. Repeat. When it is totally melted and smooth, add 1 tablespoon of cream at a time, mixing it well, until you get the consistency that you desire.
Then, drizzle the chocolate over the strawberry and sprinkle with additional graham cracker crumbs.
It’s such a happy dessert!
After you are done plating, you should put them in the refrigerator to firm up. The chocolate will get firm, but not hard.
You can print the recipe here.
Make sure you set the spoons on a pretty plate. If you are not using spoons, make a bed of cracker crumbs on a pretty plate and put the strawberries on top. Then you can add some darling little hearts or great linens.
I don’t know how many calories are in each berry, but I can tell you this: it’s hecka lot less than if you had a slice of cheesecake with chocolate ganache and strawberries. So, you should probably eat two.
I did promise you that I would have another way to use up the rest of the cheesecake filling. This was inspired by my youngest son who has never tasted fruit and probably will never taste fruit. He says its a texture thing.
But oh how he loves cheesecake.
So, I broke out the cute cupcake papers and put a couple of tablespoons of the graham cracker crumbs in the bottom and patted them firmly.
Then I cut a little bigger hole in my bag full of cheesecake filling and piped some of the filling on top of the crust. Next came a dollop or two of the ganache and I finished it off with more crumbs.
Of course, this dessert could be for any occasion, but I wanted to make this for Valentine’s Day. I searched around the cupboard and found some Red Wilton Sparkle Gel that I probably bought to decorate cookies at Christmas. I undoubtedly have some green Sparkle Gel in the cupboard somewhere, too. Hmmm. I guess I can use the green around St. Patrick’s Day. Remind me.
I had to practice a little before piping the gel on to the cheesecake cupcakes. My practice hearts came out pretty good. The ones on the real cupcakes…not so much. But, it does say Valentine’s Day. If you don’t have sparkle gel (which I do not know why you would not…) you might want to use those little candy hearts with the pithy sayings on them like, “Say Yes”, or “I Love You”, or “Lets Kiss”. My men won’t care that the hearts are not perfect. They will get the message that I love them.
Put them in a pretty paper cupcake holder and then on a pretty plate. Sprinkle some chocolate truffles or red and white M&M’s around and VOILA! Instant Valentine’s Love for the waist watchers and non-fruit lovers.
Yummy cheesecake two ways.
As Yes!Chef! says, “Bon appetit!”