Roaming around off Tyria’s beaten paths for the shere fun of it still is one of my favorite things to do to wind down after a long day – soaking up the beautiful scenery while helping with tasks and events around the areas I’m visiting has never lost that strangely relaxing and refueling effect on me. Sometimes, things I see, do or find on these merry trips even end up tickling the snoozing kitchen-related areas of my mind to full awareness in the middle of the night.
Just a short while ago, I found myself running around Kessex Hill for no apparent reason and ended up right smack in the middle of the strawberry patches near Isgarren’s View. Of course, that was just the spark my culinary fuse needed to fizz off into the kitchen, pulling me right along with it. Sometimes, my mind just wanders off in weird directions once that fuse has been lit, so my initial train of thought along the lines of “Oh yes, something quick and absolutely non-fussy! I always wanted to go with the Chef’s Guild’s Strawberries and Biscuits idea” took a reckless turn into Valentine’s Day-appropriate pretties and came to a screeching halt at whimsically decorated Strawberry No-Bake Cheesecake. Needless to say, my night got a lot longer than I had anticipated, but at the end of it, I had turned one of my Spring-Sunday regulars into pretty little Valentine’s Day treats, thanks to the Jotun’s strawberries and this little Tyrian recipe~
The Oreo Cookie Base
125g Oreo Cookies
40g Butter, melted
1) Blitz the cookies into a fine crumble with the help of a food processor.
2) Pour in the melted butter, then whizz the mixture again to incorporate it into the cookie crumble.
3) Place an 18cm DIA cake ring on a cutting board lined with baking parchment or prep 3 mini-springforms – usually 10cm DIA unless you use heart-shaped ones – by flipping the base upside down before locking it back into place. By doing that, you’ll avoid having to face the logistical problem of getting a firmed up cookie base out of the small grooves in the bottom pans in one piece.
4) Tip the cookie mixture into the forms and firmly press it down into a flat, firmly packed layer across the bottom. The cookie base should be around 0,7-1cm thick, but not much more, to be able to support the filling in the end. I usually end up with a bit of an excess of cookie sand, but they never break anyways.
5) Place the ring or springforms in the fridge for about 30 mins to give the base enough time to set properly.
6) To create a pretty strawberry fence like you can see on one of my cakes in the pics…
– …start off by using a dessert- or serving ring instead of a springform – the snap of releasing the rim of the springform might tear the berry-fence apart.
– Slice a couple of strawberries into thin slices of about 2-3mm thickness.
– Search the pile for slices of about the same size and set them aside – use the rest of the slices for the filling or use them for other decorative measures later.
– After taking care of the cookie base business, chill the ring for about 15 mins, then drizzle a balled-up paper towel with a few drops of neutral vegetable oil and brush the inside of the ring with it.
– Set the strawberry slices, tips pointing up, on to the cookie base as closely fitted together as possible.
– Gently press them to the dessert ring to fit them into the curve without squishing or bruising them. – If they pop off the ring immediately, try thinner slices or berries on the riper side of things.
– If you’re looking at a “hole” in the fence, shape another thin berry slice to fit right into the gap.
– Pop the ring into the fridge and proceed to the filling~
The Strawberry Filling
2 ½ Leaves of Gelatine
250g softened Cream Cheese – if you’re going with a low-fat cream cheese, make that 3 leaves of gelatine just to be safe
50g Caster Sugar
250g fresh Strawberries, stemmed
125g Light Whipping Cream
1 Tsp Lemon Zest
1 Tsp Lemon Juice
1) Place the cream cheese, lemon zest and sugar in a large mixing bowl and have at the lot with a handheld whirr-o-matic until the mixture is well combined and creamy.
2) Pop 2/3 of the strawberries into a blender or stick-blender friendly, high-rimmed container. Thoroughly whizz them into a silky purée.
3) Remove 2 Tbsp of the purée and add them to a small pot.
4) Add the remaining strawberries to the blender and give them a few pulses, if you fancy a fruity bit in your filling from time to time – or another thorough whizz if you prefer a smooth and even texture.
5) Gently fold the very-berry purée into your cream cheese mixture until they are very well combined.
6) Soak the gelatine in a bowl of cold water for 5 mins
7) Set the pot holding your 2 Tbsp of fine strawberry purée on to low heat and stir in the lemon juice. Squeeze the gelatin leaves once their time is up to remove any and all excess water. Add the soft leaves to the purée in the pot and stir the lot with a spatula until the leaves have dissolved completely. If you’re getting impatient, feel free to turn up the heat a little bit but make sure the blend doesn’t start to simmer or even boil – gelatine looses it’s desired properties if it’s brought up to a boil or, for that matter, close to it.
8) Set the pot aside to cool down a bit while you approach the finishing line.
9) Pour the cream – make extra sure, its very well chilled – into yet another mixing bowl and whip it up long enough for stiff peaks to take form and stay where you pulled out your whisks.
10) Carefully and slowly fold the pretty fluffy clouds into the strawberry mixture with the help of a rubber spatula. Don’t rush this bit, popping all the air bubbles you’ve trapped inside the cream in the process would end in a runaway filling.
11) Fold in the gelatine-strawberry mixture, again, carefully as not to destroy the frothy texture of the deal, until it’s fully blended into the filling. Thanks to the vibrant color of the new addition, tracking the progress of your endeavors is quite easy – stop the spatula work once there’s not a single white or bright pink streak to be seen in your bowl.
12) Retrieve your prepared tins or rings and slowly pour the filling on top of the bases waiting inside.
13) Lightly tap the filled tins onto a flat, stable surface to pop bigger air pockets trapped inside.
14) Smooth out the surface of the filling with a palette knife or the back of a spoon.
15) Place the cakes in your fridge to chill through and set for at least 6 hours.
Basically, you’re done at this point, unless you want to doll up the cheesecake a bit~
Since the berry-fence is pretty enough as it is, at least in my opinion, I simply dusted the surface of that one with a bit of grated white chocolate and arranged some left-over strawberries on top.
The glazed cake, however, takes a bit more than that, once the filling had sufficient time to firm up.
The Chocolate Glaze
150g Dark Chocolate
50g White Chocolate
1) Melt the chocolate and the butter in a waterbath, a bowl set on top of a pot of simmering water but not touching the water – give the mixture a stir from time to time to help it along.
2) Once the glaze is smooth and glossy, set the bowl aside to cool the mixture down to room temperatrure.
3) To make sure the glaze doesn’t end up melting the filling in places, pop the cake into the freezer for 7-10 mins to chill the outer “skin” down enough for the glaze to firm up around it immediately, don’t leave it in for too long though, gelatine looses its structure if frozen through.
4) Release the cake from its shape-giving tin or ring and place it on a cooling rack set on top of a sheet of baking parchment.
5) Pour about 90% of the glaze on top of the cake – keep the remaining 10% in the bowl for now. You might need it to patch up tears in the coat – and use a palette knife or a spatula to ease it across the surface and get the excess to ooze down the sides, coating them as well.
6) Even though, most of the time, the chocolate glaze conveniently sets into decorative drip-ribbons as it runs down the chilled sides of the cake, I decided to go with a closed chocolate coat in this case. For two reasons, actually – first and foremost… I rushed it and didn’t spread the glaze out evenly, so it only ran down one side, leaving the other ones stark naked. Secondly, I made this one 2 days in advance, and a closed chocolate cover preserves the yummy flavors and texture for more than just one day.
7) So, spread out the glaze evenly and as quickly as possible – before it sets in the wrong places – and close up any holes in the cover on the sides with drops of the excess glaze in your bowl.
8) Chill the cake for another 2-3 hours until the glaze has set completely before unleashing your inner little girl or mad cake designer on it.
9) Keep it chilled until you’re ready to serve~
By the way, for a shape-friendlier, summery dessert, skip one leaf of gelatine, skip the oreos… scratch that, keep at least one and hide the rest! – and pour the mixture on top of a couple of sliced strawberries sitting in a bowl~ 2-3 hours of quality fridge-time and Voila~! One flufftastic strawberry mousse in a blink of an eye~