Berry No-Bake Cheesecake Tart with Chocolate Crust
by Victoria Challancin
All cooks need a few pretty, easy desserts in their repertoire, and this cheesecake tart is just that: beautiful and so simple to prepare. Add "tasty" to the mix and you have a perfect hot-weather dessert (we won't talk about the "fattening" part). I will definitely make this again changing the fruit for whatever is seasonal. This cheesecake tart is one we prepared in class a month or so ago--I just hadn't had time to write it up before.
The original recipe is called a "Strawberry Cheesecake;" I prefer "Berry Cheesecake Tart"--"Berry" for the assortment of fruit I envision on my next version, "Tart" for the pan I chose. Variations on both the fruit and the type of pan used are many. For me, Mango-Kiwi-Blackberry in a regular pie pan may be next!
Berry, Berry Fun
In everyday parlance, we toss the word "berry"around without ever really thinking what it means. I mean, we all know what berries are, right? They are those cute, small, edible, juicy fruits that come into season for only a short while, long enough to sate us until the next year when we are dazzled anew by the season's offering. Shapes vary from round to semi-oblong, colors are bright, flavors sweet or sour, and there is no stone or pit though there may be many seeds present. We all recognize strawberries, blue berries, blackberries, cranberries, raspberries, gooseberries, and a host of others we pounce upon in the markets as soon as they make a seasonal appearance. But really, what are berries?
Technically, to the botanist, a berry is simply a fleshy fruit that is produced from a single ovary. According to the botanical definition, a berry is "the most common type of fleshy fruit in which the entire ovary wall ripens into an edible pericarp. The seeds are usually embedded in the flesh of the ovary." Wow. Who'd have thought that?
Here is a list of a few common berries without going into the modified berries, the drupes, or pomes:
- Coffee beans
- Capsicum (chiles)
- Kiwi fruit
- Strawberries, raspberries and blackberries are not true berries (unlike tomatoes, bananas, and chiles), but are called aggregate fruits because of the way they are grown
- Strawberries were cultivated in ancient Rome
- In ancient Greece, the strawberry was a symbol for Venus, Goddess of Love
- Strawberries are a member of the Rose family
- Strawberries are the only fruit in the world whose seeds grow on the outside
- There is an average of 200 seeds on each strawberry
- Strawberries were first cultivated in the 16th and 17th centuries
- Strawberries were used as a medicinal herb in the 13th century in Rome (for fever, bad breath, gout, sore throat, depression, fainting and diseases of the blood)
- Anne Boleyn, the second wife of English King Henry VIII, had a strawberry-shaped birthmark on her neck, which unfortunately was cited as proof that she was a witch
- Strawberries have a museum dedicated to them in Belgium
- There are over 200 kinds of known species of raspberries, but only 2 are grown commercially
- The Trojans, or people of Troy in modern-day Turkey, were the first to express in writing an appreciation of the raspberry
- Evidence in writing exists that raspberries were cultivated as early as 4 A.D.
- There are over 1000 varieties of blackberries
- Blueberries, which are native to North America, are related to azaleas, camellias, heathers, and rhododendrons
- Blueberries were once called "star berries" because of the star-shaped crown on the top of the berry
- There are about 1600 wild blueberries or 500 cultivated blueberries in a pound
- Blueberries have more antioxidants than most other fruits and vegetables and have become so popular that over 1500 new products containing them were introduced last year
- Cranberries were domesticated in the twentieth century
- Berries are high in vitamins like A and C, fiber, and antioxidants, which can prevent certain types of cancers
- Blackberry tea was said to be a cure for dysentery during the American Civil War
- Berries accounted for $3 billion in sales last year
- Berries help fight oxidation and inflammation
Paula and Rosalinda decorating the cheesecake tart
Cook's Notes: I would have preferred a plain dark chocolate wafer for the crust, but had to settle for Oreos, with the frosting scraped away. Any seasonal fruit works for this easy cheesecake.
Recipe: Strawberry No-Bake Cheesecake with a Chocolate Crust
(Recipe from iVillage.com)
2 cups chocolate cookies
1/4 cup, plus 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/2 cup)
1 8oz/227g package cream cheese
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup whipping cream
12 oz strawberries or other fruits such as mango, kiwi, or any berries)
In a sealable plastic bag, thoroughly crush chocolate cookies with a rolling pin or use a food processor. Mix crumbs and 2 tablespoons sugar in a bowl. Melt butter and blend well with the crumb mixture. Press into the bottom and up along the sides of a buttered and floured 8-inch tart pan or springform pan--or eve a regular pie plate. Cover with plastic wrap and chill until firm.
While crust is setting, beat cream cheese in a bowl until soft. Add 1/4 cup sugar, lemon juice, and vanilla extract. Beat mixture until fluffy and smooth. In a separate chilled bowl, beat whipping cream until firm peaks form. Fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture. Add the filling into the chocolate crust and spread out evenly. Arrange sliced strawberries or other fruit on top of cheesecake. Cover and chill for a couple of hours before serving.
Note: You can make this a day before. Refrigerate overnight until serving.
Mexican Market Treats--covered in chile
©Victoria Challancin. All Rights Reserved.
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