This was a first for me. Can you imagine a 50 year old woman having never baked a cheese cake before? Well, I haven’t. I have made cheesecake before but they involved jello or cool whip, never baked. I used to make a delicious lemon cheesecake with lemon jello and it was so moist – I even convinced a young man when I was in college that cheesecake can be delicious with that recipe. I still have the recipe and it is about as time consuming as a baked cheesecake but it did not allow for playing around with, it was a one way only recipe. This current recipe is adaptable, you can choose to use raspberries instead of strawberries or choose a graham cracker or chocolate wafer crust instead of an oreo crust. Perhaps you only want chocolate cheesecake instead of plain swirled with your berries. It is yours to play with, just use the same amount of ingredients. So let’s get going. Please read all the ingredients and directions before getting started. One of the important things to know, this is a prepare ahead by a day recipe. The cheesecake needs to be refrigerated overnight. Ingredients: 1 1/2 cups of crushed oreos (this was about 1 1/2 sleeves of oreo cookies, crushed in a ziploc baggie – ran over by a rolling pin) 1/3 cup butter, melted 1 cup fresh strawberries (pureed with 1/2 tsp sugar) 24 oz. cream cheese, softened 1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk 1 tsp. vanilla extract 4 eggs, separated 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips, melted and cooled (melt in a glass bowl using the microwave, 30 seconds at a time, stirring inbetween – it might take about 45 seconds) additional strawberries Directions: 1. Place a greased 9 inch springform pan on an 18 square of heavy-duty foil. Wrap foil around pan. 2. In a bowl, combined crushed oreos and butter (if you use graham crackers add 1/4 cup powdered sugar). Press onto the bottom of the pan. 3. In a bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Beat in milk and vanilla until well mixed in. Add egg yolks; beat on low until combined. 4. Remove 1 Tbsp. cream cheese mixture and stir into pureed strawberries. Set aside for later. 5. Remove 1/2 of the cream cheese mixture and stir in chocolate. 6. In a bowl using clean beaters, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. 7. With spatula, fold half of the egg whites into chocolate mixture until well blended. Spread over crust. 8. Fold remaining egg whites into plain cream cheese mixture until well blended. Spread over chocolate layer. 9. Drop strawberry mixture on top of plain cream cheese layer by spoonfuls. Swirl with a knife. (I just go back and forth across the pan both width and length wise) 10. Place springform pan in a large baking pan; add 1 in of boiling water to larger pan. 11. Place in a preheated 325degree oven and bake for 55 to 65 minutes or until center is just set. (Set means there is a little jiggle to the center but slightly firm to the touch) Mine took 65 minutes. 12. Remove springform pan from water bath; remove foil and cool on wire rack for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes run a table knife around the rim of the pan to loosen. 13. Cool 1 hour longer and than refrigerate overnight. 14. When ready to serve, remove rim and serve with fresh halved or quartered strawberries. 15. If you have any leftovers, place rim around the cheesecake again, cover with foil and save in refrigerator.
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