Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Cheesecake-Filled Strawberries

On my calendar, it's strawberry time. Over the past week, the berries in my garden have started to turn. Luckily, I've managed to keep most of the bunnies and squirrels (knocks on wood) from nibbling the berries before I harvest them.

First red berry of the season.

Do yourself a favor and buy at least some (if not all) of your strawberries from a farmers market this season. Aside from being laden with pesticides, most of the strawberries you will find in the supermarkets are never as red or as juicy as they should be. A berry from a local farm, however, should drip on your favorite shirt when you take a bite (a small price to pay).

Although we should stop ourselves at eating plain berries for dessert, here's a way to make them even better; the satisfaction of strawberry cheesecake with about a tenth of the guilt.

Love Birds

I credit my neighbor for giving me this idea last summer. You need a little patience to prep the berries but otherwise it's a very simple recipe.

Berry prep looks like this: slice off the tops of your strawberries and make a tiny slice at the tip (to help them stand up). Use a small paring knife to carve a space on the inside of the berry. More space means more cheesecake filling. After that, you just fill, dip, and enjoy.

The recipe below is for one pound of large strawberries. Adjust as needed according to the number and size of strawberries you're using. If you follow the recipe exactly you should still have some filling left over. If you don't like to use piping bags, simply transfer your filling to a Ziploc bag and snip off a corner. You could also just dip your berries into the filling, or use it to make little shortcakes.

The possibilities are endless on this one... dip your filled berries in chocolate, use chocolate grahams, chopped mint cookies, or gluten-free cookie crumbs... Use your imagination and tell me how it goes. 

Cheesecake-Filled Strawberries

1 lb. large strawberries
8 oz. cream cheese, soft
3 T. powdered sugar
1 t. vanilla
graham cracker crumbs

Pour crumbs into a small bowl. Set aside.

Beat cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla using an electric mixer. Transfer filling to a piping bag.

Remove the top and core of each berry using a small paring knife. Slice off tip of the berry to stand up. Fill berries with cream cheese filling and dip tops into graham cracker crumbs. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

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