No-Bake Strawberry Cheesecake!

This is my homemade version of a 1960s dessert. The original recipe could have been found on Strawberry Jell-O package or CoolWhip containers. I thought it was brilliant, despite the fact that it was overly sweet, too stiff from the Jell-O and, if one were being picky, they may point out the slight chemical after taste. But, in its defense it was fast and very pretty. My version is made with nothing but fresh sweet strawberries, cream cheese, real whipped cream, and just the slightest bit of gelatin to keep it standing tall until you bite into it, then it melts in your mouth. No oven required, which makes it ideal for the sultry summer days.

Watch my quick video on how to make and assemble the cheesecake.  (more…)

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Lemon Curd Cheesecake and my new Show-Stopping Cheesecake Class on Craftsy

I am so excited to announce my new class on Craftsy, Show-Stopping Cheesecake!

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Craftsy, it provides education and tools to help you bring your creativity to life. You can learn everything from photography, knitting, sewing, cake decorating and of course, baking. It allows you to learn how to do these things at your own pace, when it is convenient and you have access to the teachers (me) whenever you have questions or just want to share what projects you’re working on. I love this platform for learning and teaching. As some of you may know I’ve done a bread baking class based on the Master recipe from my book The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.

Show-Stopping Cheesecake with Zoë François | Craftsy(5 of 16)

I recently went back to the Craftsy studio and created a Show-Stopping Cheesecake class. It is more than just recipes (although there are plenty of those too), it is a technique class that will give you all the skills to bake any kind of cheesecake you desire. We’ll cover different flavors, baking methods, pan shapes and lots of toppings and sauces. Here are just a few of the cakes I make in the video class, but I look forward to hearing what you’d come up with. If you’d like to join me in the class, here is a link that will give you 50% off the class.

Show-Stopping Cheesecake with Zoë François | Craftsy(11 of 16)

Here is a Nutella striped cheesecake that I then top with candied hazelnuts. I’ll show you how to create the stripes and how to make the candied garnish.

Show-Stopping Cheesecake with Zoë François | Craftsy(13 of 16)

Cheesecakes can be many shapes, including this chocolate bombe. We will also enrobe it in glossy ganache and create chocolate shavings to top it all off.

Show-Stopping Cheesecake with Zoë François | Craftsy(14 of 16)

These bars are made of a bourbon flavored cheesecake and studded with blackberries and topped with sour cream.

Show-Stopping Cheesecake with Zoë François | Craftsy(15 of 16)

This terrine shaped cheesecake is made of layers of peanut butter and raspberry preserves.

Show-Stopping Cheesecake with Zoë François | Craftsy(16 of 16)

I’ll show you how to create many flavors from just a few base recipes and how to layer the flavors together.

In this post I’ve made a tangy lemon curd to add it to any cheesecake from my class or you can just spread it on your favorite toast or even a pound cake. (more…)

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Easter Cheesecake

Easter Cheesecake | ZoeBakes

Easter is the holiday that ushers in spring. The tulips are starting to make their way out of the frozen earth and the trees are hinting at color. It has been a long winter and all of these little changes are so very welcome. It seems fitting to make a cake that is full of color and blooms. But, as a nod of respect to this past winter and all of its fury, I created an all white blanket of roses over a swirl of wild color within.  (more…)

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Cherry Cheesecake

cherry cheesecake zb 03

I started off thinking this was a Valentine’s post, with a heart-shaped sensuous cheesecake, topped with ruby-red cherry sauce. It still is, but I have to digress for a moment and talk about the Olympics. It is more connected and less random than you might think. When I was researching the origin of the cheesecake I found out, thanks the internet, that this favorite cake (which I think is really a custard, but now I digress in my digression) dates back to about 250 bc, where a Roman politician first wrote down the recipe. I am sharing it with you, because the translation is hysterical and I can only imagine the range in results with such crude instructions:

“Recipe for libum (cheesecake) – Bray 2 pounds of cheese thoroughly in a mortar; when it is thoroughly macerated, add 1 pound of wheat flour, or, if you wish the cake to be more dainty, ½ pound of fine flour, and mix thoroughly with the cheese. Add 1 egg, and work the whole well. Pat out a loaf, place on leaves, and bake slowly on a warm hearth under a crock.”

It goes on to talk about covering it in honey and poppy-seeds if you so desire. Even the “dainty” version sounds a bit severe to me. The editor who translated this couldn’t help themselves and added a note at the end that reads…”These recipes cannot be considered alluring.” They were, however, hearty and fed to the ancient Olympians during the games to keep them well fueled. Oh, how far we have come from the times when you had to “bray” (grind) cheese to get it soft enough. This rather utilitarian version of the cheesecake may have satisfied the ancient Romans, but today we are going for something a little bit sexier.

My cheesecake is made with ricotta and a touch of honey, as a nod to the original Romans, but that’s as far as the similarities go. Just a touch of flour is used as a slight binder, but not so much as to ruin the luxurious texture. I whipped the egg whites and folded them into the cheese batter to keep it lighter than some of my denser, custard-style cheesecakes. The crust is crushed ginger cookies and the cherry topping is made with a hint of vanilla, cardamom and ginger extracts. This cake would keep any Olympian going, but it’s romantic enough to serve to your sweetheart on Valentine’s day. (more…)

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Red, White & Blue Berry Cheesecake for 4th of July

4th cheesecake zb 16

I’m not sure anyone would describe me as a perfectionist? My house is neat enough, but it is clearly lived in.  I’ve always wanted to be the kind of person who irons my sheets, my table clothes or even my clothes, but so far it’s just a fantasy. The only place I admit to being really obsessive is my work. I’ve been known to make a recipe over and over and over, until I am happy. It also has to pass the test of the François family, which can often feel like an episode of Chopped. They are neither shy, nor sparing with their criticism (and praise), but it seems they enjoy the criticism even more and I’ve come to trust and rely on their opinions. So, when I cut into the first round of this cheesecake, they didn’t hesitate to tell me it was “WAY TOO SWEET!” None of us are a big fans of cloyingly, teeth-on-edge, sweets.  We prefer to taste the vanilla, the berries and even a touch of sour cream in cheesecake.  After a bit of adjusting and a lot of testing, I’ve got it “Just right!”

Red (raspberry), white (vanilla bean) and blue (blueberry) layers of distinct flavors, all work beautifully together in this 4th of July Cheesecake. The fresh blueberry topping is held together with just enough gelatin to give it a gorgeous, glossy look and makes it easy to cut. In order to achieve the clean layers you’ll need to have some time to let each one set, so it isn’t a recipe for a last minute dinner party. It’s super easy and completely worth the extra time to present such a fun dessert at your holiday party. (more…)

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