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Say ‘Cheesecake!’

The key to a great strawberry cheesecake is using the freshest ingredients, starting with the fruit.
The key to a great strawberry cheesecake is using the freshest ingredients, starting with the fruit.

Use your u-pick strawberries in a fresh, creamy strawberry cheesecake! 

In June, we celebrate the strawberry harvest and are lucky in McHenry County to have farms – like my favorite, Stade’s in McHenry – that offer u-pick, as well as farmers markets that bring the fruit to our town centers. June also happens to be National Dairy Month, celebrating dairy farmers and the benefits of adding dairy to our diet. National Dairy Month is particularly relevant in McHenry County as Harvard was once the milk capital of the world! Turns out, dairy and strawberries make a great team. And so, for my June food column, I’m delighted to share my recipe for strawberry cheesecake!

“I remember the smell of the fruit and the taste of the first berries – their sweetness and juiciness was so delicious.”

The key to a great strawberry cheesecake is using the freshest ingredients, starting with the fruit. I remember as a young child helping my grandma pick berries for jams, pies and cakes. On hot summer days in the small southern Illinois town of Christopher, we would spend time in Grandpa’s garden picking the strawberries, blackberries and raspberries. I remember the smell of the fruit and the taste of the first berries – their sweetness and juiciness was so delicious. Returning to my grandparents’ house, I would nearly have to take a bath because my face and usually my clothes where dripping with berry juice! After berries were picked and cleaned, it was time to make cheesecake.

Enjoy my decadent strawberry cheesecake recipe. And please share your baking memories and photos with us via Facebook!

Strawberry Cheesecake

Crust Ingredients

  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons raw sugar
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted


Filling Ingredients

  • 2 pounds of cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 1/3 cup raw sugar
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla
  • 4 large cage-free brown eggs
  • 2/3 cup sour cream
  • 2/3 cup heavy whipping cream


Strawberry Glaze Ingredients 

  • 2 cups farm-picked or organic strawberries, stems removed, divided
  • 1 cup raw sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3/4 cup water


Crust Preparation

  1. Prepare a springform pan so that no water leaks into it while cooking by folding foil all around the pan. I use three sheets of foil and crimp the top of the foil sheets around the top edge of the pan.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees with the rack in the lower third of the oven.
  3. Pulse the graham crackers in a food processor until finely ground.
  4. Put in large bowl and mix in the sugar, salt and butter.
  5. Put all of the graham cracker mixture into the bottom of the springform pan.
  6. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes.
  7. Remove from the oven and let cool. Set aside.
  8. Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees.


Filling Preparation

  1. Cut cream cheese into chunks and place into the bowl of an electric mixer.
  2. Beat on medium speed for four minutes.
  3. Add the salt and vanilla, then eggs one at a time, beating the mixture for one minute after each addition.
  4. Add the heavy cream and the sour cream. Beat until incorporated. Set aside.
  5. Prepare two quarts of boiling water. Pour cream cheese mixture into the springform pan.
  6. Place springform pan into a roasting pan and put into oven.
  7. Slowly add the hot water to roasting pan until it reaches 1/2 way up the springform pan.
  8. Bake for 1 1/2 hours.
  9. Turn off the heat of the oven and crack the door open 1 inch.
  10. Let the cake cool in the oven for one hour.
  11. Remove from oven.
  12. Cover the top of the cheesecake with foil and refrigerate. Do not touch the cheesecake for a minimum of four hours.


Glaze Preparation

  1. While the cake sets it the fridge, prepare the glaze and strawberry topping.
  2. For the glaze, mash one cup of the strawberries and set aside.
  3. In a sauce pan, combine sugar and cornstarch.
  4. Add water and mashed berries and bring to a boil for three minutes until mixture thickens.
  5. Cool for 10-15 minutes.
  6. Halve the other cup of strawberries and set aside.
  7. When the cheesecake is finished cooling, remove it from the springform pan and drizzle some of the glaze over it and top, saving some glaze for the strawberry toping.
  8. For the strawberry topping, mix the halved strawberries with the rest of the glaze.
  9. Top cake with the mixture. Refrigerate until ready to eat.


debimugChef Debi Stuckwisch, of Johnsburg, learned to cook from her mother and grandmother – using fresh ingredients from farm to table. Her company, Meals Like Mom, offers meal services and catering. Reach her at 847.778.9351, and via Facebook.




Stade’s Farm & Market, McCullom Lake Road, Johnsburg, IL, United States


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