A gluten-free goat cheese cheesecake made with a nutty crust, goat cheese filling, and topped with homemade strawberry sauce. And to say it’s the best cheesecake I’ve ever had? Well, it’s true. It’s honestly the very best cheesecake I’ve ever had.
The past few months have been less than perfect, to say the least. My mom died, and my siblings and I are now caretaking dad. When people ask how I've been, it's hard not to say 'I've been a bit busy.' Of all the things I've endured in life, not one challenge has been greater than this.
UNTIL I made gluten-free goat cheese cheesecake. And this baby’s got a nutty crumbly crust, with a strawberry sauce that melts in your mouth. And really, overall, you’re not looking at a lot of ingredients here. It's an absolutely perfect dessert for the holidays.
- A crust that’s made with Cup4Cup gf flour and cashews. The cashews are ground and mixed with butter, brown sugar, sugar cane, and some flour. Cup4Cup flour to be exact. After all the years of making this (found the base for this on Wiki site years ago....I still have the print out) crust, I can say that Cup4Cup makes this shine. You can use other nuts also, but I prefer cashews for this recipe.
- A filling that's made with goat cheese. This filling is an Anne Burrell filling, and it’s a pure masterpiece. I use the simple main components, and omit other ingredients she’s added in some variations of this recipe. It’s simply gorgeous goat cheese, cream cheese, sour cream and eggs with a few other pieces. But that’s the gist of it. I suggest really using a smooth sour cream and stay away from anything that’s too thick. I’ve tried both, and the less thick the better. It gives the cheese cake a wonderful texture that compliments the goat cheese, and doesn’t create a thickened barrier. It’s just fantastic.
- A topping that’s fresh and easy. I found a strawberry topping that uses 3 ingredients way back in the day on a recipe on Allrecipes. I still have the print out! It’s just strawberries and sugar, with a pinch of vanilla extract. Real is even better! Every summer we pick fresh farm local strawberries and let me tell you - you’ve got to use the farm picked red beauties. They're the freshest and also, not hard and bulky. They melt in your mouth and you need a real strawberry like this for your topping to lay smoothly. There’s just no other way to perfect this. So find a strawberry farm locally. And if you have to pick them way in advance, simply wash them all, pop off the tops, then seal them in airtight freezer bags. When you’re ready to make your sauce down the road, thaw those baggies and put the strawberries in a strainer. They’ll be mushy heavenly perfection. Trust me! And if strawberry season has passed, frozen strawberries will definitely suffice.
NOW there is one KEY thing to always remember when making and assembling a cheesecake. Has anyone ever mentioned this to you? The method? Yip. You have to follow a method with each step. A technique, if you will. You can't just mix all the ingredients together, then pop everything in the oven and be done baking. No. You have to use a method for each step. I detail the methods for each step in the recipe. You'll love it. And you'll feel like a gluten-free cooking kitchen badass. Trust me 🙂
My mother passed away August 14th, 2018. Her breast cancer came back with a vengeance, after 17 years. There was nothing that could be done. She went in with a stomach ache on July 13th, began hospice soon after, then past away almost exactly one month after her first hospital stay. My parents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary two weeks before she passed.
I am devastated. We are now tending to my father. I feel like I haven't had time to breath as it all happened so fast. She wasn't supposed to go first. It was always dad that was supposed to go first. The successful surgeon who lived a full life, but now struggles with dementia at 84 and can't seem to gain weight. She was his caretaker. And then no more. And now we five are. And it's just a world we didn't imagine.
I haven't published a post in a long time. I didn't think I'd be posting much this year at all. Cheesecake makes me think of my mom, Anna. She always had a sweet tooth 🙂 She loved cheesecake.
My mother-in-law loves it too. And she is basically my other momma. I'm so grateful for her. She was fighting some stuff too. And I can't imagine losing her. She is strong, and my mom and her were friends.
I'm sad alot. So maybe if I think about the dishes that might put a smile on faces, it might make me feel better. Ya know?
I know this cheesecake puts a smile on my mom's face, and my mother in law's face. Two beautiful women who love their kids more than the world, and love to cook.
Naturally, this post is dedicated to my mother, Anna. I'm sure there will be many more dishes dedicated to her to come. For now, there will be lots and lots of this gluten-free goat cheese cheesecake being made this year over the holidays. No doubt.
Here's to you, mom. And here's to the best cheesecake I know you loved. I promise to always make it for Thanksgiving and Christmas. And maybe I'll have dad try it this year 😉
God, how I miss you.
GLUTEN-FREE GOAT CHEESE CHEESECAKE WITH EASY STRAWBERRY SAUCE
- FOR CRUST: this was inspired by a WikiHow article years ago
- 1 cup whole unsalted cashews (I use cashews for this recipe. Anthony’s Organic is labeled gluten-free)
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour gluten-free flour (I ALWAYS use Cup4Cup gf flour. It makes a HUGE difference in taste)
- 6 tablespoons packed brown sugar use light brown sugar
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter cold (Kroger brand is gluten-free)
- hefty pinch of kosher salt
- Non-stick leakproof spring form pan (very important)
- FOR FILLING: an Anne Burrell recipe that is fantastic and gluten-free
- 2- 8 ounce packages cream cheese room temperature
- 12 ounces of goat cheese semi room temperature (so three 4oz. packs. Vermont Creamery in stores is labeled gluten-free)
- 1 ½ cups sour cream Daisy sour cream is a great consistency for this cheesecake, and Daisy claims they are gluten-free.
- 4 eggs room temperature
- 2 ¼ teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 ½ cups sugar
- FOR TOPPING: inspired by a simple recipe on All Recipes years ago.
- 4 cups fresh strawberries stems removed, strawberries cut into fourths (farm fresh or frozen are absolutely best to use)
- 2 cups sugar cane use real sugar cane for the topping. Makes all the difference
- 2 teaspoons vanilla which is about 4 inches of a normal vanilla bean. You should use real vanilla, as it makes this recipe so good. If using extract, use 2 teaspoons.
- tiny pinch of Kosher salt
- FOR CRUST:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- In a food processor, chop cashews until finely ground.
- Add remaining ingredients and grind finely, until a dough consistency forms.
- In a very buttered springform pan, drop crust. (Note: You MUST butter the bottom and lower sides of the spring form pan VERY well. Your crust will stick if not, which will make it harder to remove the entire cheesecake from the pan.)
- Press crust until a thin layer forms at bottom of pan, and until the edges are reached and able to be pinched upward a bit (to hold the filling in place).
- Bake in oven for approximately 15-20 minutes, or until edges become golden and crust browns slightly.
- When finished, take out of oven and let completely cool before pouring in filling.
- FOR FILLING: (This is a simple Anne Burrell filling that is fantastic. In honor of my Anna. I have added tips on how to successfully bake the cheesecake):
- Be sure that ingredients are room temperature before mixing. This is very important.
- While ingredients get to room temp, prepare your spring form pan with crust by surrounding the outside of the pan with foil. You are essentially making a layer of foil on the sides and bottom of pan to secure moisture while the cheesecake bakes. This is VERY important.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- In a mixer, combine goat cheese and cream cheese and mix with a paddle until creamy.
- Add sour cream and beat until smooth. With a spatula, scrape sides and bottom of mixing bowl so that ingredients are not stuck to sides. Beat again until smooth. Note: Be sure to use sour cream that is NOT thick. Thick sour cream will interfere with the baking consistency of this filling. This is very important.)
- Add sugar and vanilla and beat until mixed.
- Add room temperature eggs one at a time, until each is mixed. Beat a few more seconds for smoothness, then stop. Note: Do not overbeat the filling. This will allow for more air pockets during the baking stage, which we do not want.)
- Pour mixture slowly into spring form pan onto baked gluten-free crust, so that it fills the pan. Remember that your pan should be foiled on the outside.
- On the counter, tap the whole pan a few time by slightly dropping it onto the counter. What this does is pops the small air bubbles that may begin to form.
- Place the foiled spring form pan carefully in the center of a sided baking sheet. You are ready to bake! Place the sheet into the oven, then pour water into the sided baking sheet so that it is about ¼ inch high. (Note: This is extremely important! The water allows for the cheesecake to bake with moisture. This will prevent cracking)
- Bake for approximately 30 minutes. With oven mitts, carefully turn the pan 180 degrees so that the opposite side of the cheesecake is now facing you. try not to tip the pan at all so the cheesecake stays flat and even! If water in the pan is down, refill it so that it stands about ¼ inch high. (Turning the pan allows for even baking.)
- Bake another 25 minutes until done, but follow these important instructions while it bakes in Step 13……
- HERE IS WHAT TO DO: Begin watching the cheesecake after approximately 15-20 minutes. You are looking for the outer part of the cheesecake to firm up and look creamy, and the center to still be slightly jiggly. IF your cheesecake begins to brown, you have overcooked it slightly. It will still taste great, but could be better. So, begin watching it BEFORE the allotted time. Once the outer part looks creamy and firm, and the center is still slightly jiggly, TURN OFF THE OVEN RIGHT AWAY AND KEEP THE CHEESECAKE INSIDE!
- LEAVE THE CHEESECAKE INSIDE THE OVEN WITH THE OVEN TURNED OFF FOR THE NEXT HOUR. You are literally letting it cool inside the oven over a length of time. Do NOT open the oven door! Just let it sit.
- After one hour, remove the cheesecake from the oven and set on the kitchen counter. LET IT COOL ON COUNTER FOR ANOTHER HOUR AT ROOM TEMPERATURE.
- You can now refrigerate your cheesecake overnight! THE CHEESE CAKE MUST AT LEAST COOL OVERNIGHT IN THE FRIDGE. My suggestion would be too cover the springform pan with hefty plastic wrap over the top, then poke a hole or two in the plastic wrap. This will release moisture so condensation does not occur. When ready to serve: Carefully remove the sides of your spring form pan. Then with a large metal spatula, loosen the crust from the bottom part of the pan. You can use pancake spatulas to lift and place cheesecake onto platter, however, I ALWAYS try to quickly slide it onto platter if it is possible. Slice and serve with strawberry sauce on the side which can be poured on!
- For Topping:
- In a saucepan on medium low heat, add all ingredients for strawberry topping.
- Let simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the sauce has begun thickening. It will bubble first, then start to thicken up.
- Use a spatula or wooden spoon to smush and break apart strawberries at times while cooking.
- Once sauce has thickened, take off heat.
- Take about ⅓ or ½ of the strawberry sauce out of the pan, and pour into a mini food processor.
- Puree the sauce, then add it back into the sauce pan.
- Mix thoroughly, then pour in serving dish to cool. Once cooled a bit, you can store in fridge until ready to serve!