Here’s a delicious New York style strawberry cheesecake to welcome in summer and the beginning of berry season. And of course it’s gluten free, low carb, sugar free, and guilt free! A great New York style cheesecake is dense but not heavy, firm but not stiff, and is infused with a very slight lemon flavor. A spoonful or two of homemade strawberry sauce tops it off really well.
The 2 big concerns with cooking cheesecake are unsightly cracking on the top and lumpy batter. This recipe avoids both of those things and yields a foolproof, gorgeous tall cheesecake. Too much air in the batter and too high an oven temperature are the main culprits. Excess air gets into the batter by mixing for too long on too high a speed (anything over medium-low). Once the cheesecake begins to bake, moisture is released and rises to the surface. As the air expands in the hot oven, it can cause cracks in the cheesecake surface.
So here’s the drill: Make sure the cream cheese is sufficiently softened so you don’t have to mix it too vigorously to break it up. And add the ingredients one at a time, mixing on medium-low for a brief amount of time and scraping the bowl and beater between additions.
You’ll see a number of recipes out there for baking the cheesecake in a water bath to avoid cracking. The other easier method is this one – bake at high temperature very briefly and then at a very low temperature for about 1 ½ hours.
The cheesecake cooks for about 1 hour and 40 minutes and needs to cool for 2 ½ to 3 hours. So this is a plan-ahead dessert. The good news is that it’s not a ton of actual work and you can make it up to 3 days ahead of time. I’ve adapted Cook’s Illustrated basic cheesecake recipe to be low carb, gluten free, and sugar free.
- 1 recipe Almond Flour Crust
- butter or coconut oil for greasing pan
- For the Cheesecake:
- 2 1/2 pounds cream cheese, cut into rough 1 inch chunks and left to stand at room temperature for 30 to 45 minutes to soften
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/4 - 1 1/2 cups xylitol, erythritol, or a combination of the two (I use some of each)
- 1/3 cup sour cream
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 large egg yolks
- 6 large eggs
- For the Strawberry Topping:
- 1 1/2 pounds strawberries, washed, hulled, and cut into wedges
- 3-4 tablespoons xylitol, erythritol, or a combination of the two
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons water, if needed
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch (make sure it's labelled gluten free)
- Bake the Crust:
- Adjust oven rack to the lower-middle position and preheat oven to 325°.
- Brush the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan with butter or coconut oil. Press almond flour crust into bottom of pan with your fingers to a thickness of about 1/8-1/4 inch. You'll probably have leftover dough. Wrap in plastic and freeze for future use. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.
- Increase oven temperature to 500 degrees.
- Make the Cheesecake:
- Place cream cheese in the bowl of a standing mixer or a large bowl. Using the paddle attachment or a hand mixer, beat cream cheese at medium-low speed to break up and soften, about 1 minute. Scrape beater and bottom and sides of bowl with rubber spatula.
- Add the ingredients listed below in separate batches. After each addition, beat at medium-low speed until combined, about 1 minute. Scrape beater and bottom and sides of bowl and add the next ingredient(s):
- •salt and sweetener (taste batter and add more sweetener if desired)
- • sour cream, lemon juice and vanilla
- • egg yolks
- • 2 whole eggs
- • 2 more whole eggs
- • 2 more whole eggs
- Set springform pan on rimmed baking sheet (to catch any spills if pan leaks). Pour filling onto cooled crust and bake in 500° oven for 10 minutes, without opening oven door. Reduce oven temperature to 200 degrees and continue to bake until instant-read thermometer inserted in the center of the cheesecake registers about 150 degrees, about 1 1/2 hours. (Don't worry if the cheesecake top has a loose skin on it. That happens sometimes.)
- Transfer cake to wire rack and cool until barely warm, about 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Cover top with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold, at least 3 hours. Cheesecake may be made 3 days ahead of time and kept covered and chilled.
- To unmold, run a paring knife around edge of springform pan to loosen and remove ring. Cake will not come off bottom of the springform pan with crust intact so serve cake on pan bottom. Let cheesecake stand at room temperature. Serve cut in thin wedges with a spoonful or two of strawberry sauce on top.
- Make the Strawberry Sauce:
- Put about 1/3 of cut berries in a medium saucepan and mash with a potato masher. Add the rest of the sliced berries, 3 tablespoons of sweetener (taste and add more if desired), lemon juice, and lemon zest. Bring mixture to a boil and simmer for 2-3 minutes until sliced berries have softened and broken up a little.
- Place cornstarch in a small bowl. Add 1-2 tablespoons of strawberry liquid from the pan to the cornstarch and mix until cornstarch is blended in. Add cornstarch mixture to the strawberries in the pot and stir. Cook for an additional 1-2 minutes to thicken sauce.
- Remove from heat and allow to cool. Spoon on top of cheesecake slices and serve the remaining sauce at the table.