Cheesecake is a classic favorite, it's true, but in summer, cheesecake can seem a bit too heavy. That's why we prefer these little bon-bon sized cheesecake-filled strawberries instead. They're fresh and seasonal, and when you use the best strawberries you can get your hands on pack a double punch of sweetness.
As far as serving these up, you have a few choices. The cheesecake filling is a bit softer than a traditional cheesecake, for ease of filling, but it sets up in the fridge. If you fill your strawberries in advance, you can chill them and pull them out at the last minute. If you don't have the time (or forethought!) for that, they're delicious served immediately after filling. Just be sure not to leave them out in the heat, or the filling will melt.
Makes about 2 dozen berries
2 pounds organic strawberries
1/3 cup milk
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
8 ounces cream cheese
2 tbsp. sour cream
Optional: crushed organic graham crackers, melted chocolate (for dipping)
Wash the strawberries and pat them dry. Use a paring knife to hull the strawberries, making a small hollow in each one. This hollow can vary in size depending on how full you would like your strawberries to be, but ideally you will only remove the white core of the strawberry and leave the rest in tact. Set the strawberries on a plate, hollow side down, and set aside in the fridge.
Heat the milk in a saucepan. Meanwhile, beat the egg and the sugar together until light and fluffy and doubled in volume. When the milk reaches a simmer, slowly drizzle it into the egg and sugar mixture, beating constantly as you do so. When all of the milk has been added, return the entire mixture to the saucepan and place over low heat. Whisk in the vanilla. Cook the mixture, whisking constantly, until it thickens. All of the foamy bubbles will have disappeared, and it will have the texture of a custard. Set aside to cool slightly.
In a mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese and sour cream together. Fold the custard mixture into the cream cheese mixture until well combined.
Fill a pastry bag with this mixture. If you do not have a pastry bag, you can use a heavy-duty reusable plastic bag. Set the mixture aside in the fridge to chill for 2 hours. You can also prepare this mixture the night before, though you should not hollow the strawberries more than 2 hours before you plan to serve them.
When ready to serve, cut the tip off of your pastry bag or plastic bag and pipe the filling into the berries. If you like, you can serve with accompaniments for dipping, like crushed graham cracker crumbs or melted chocolate sauce.
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Images: Emily Monaco