The berry season is still months away, but already I’m dreaming of golden afternoons on my hands and knees, picking one strawberry after another and popping them into my mouth. That’s my favourite way to eat the tiny, delicate, wild strawberry, so fragrant it is the essence of strawberry distilled into one small bite still warm from the sun.

Strawberry patches come and go. I’ve found them by the side of the Alaska Highway, on the edge of urban paths and, once, in a gravel pit between Pelly Crossing and Minto. We ate all we could, and then had a snooze with all the doors and windows open before turning back onto the highway. Every summer since that day we’ve pulled into the gravel pit to check, but the berries have never again come back in such abundance.

Wild strawberries are so delicate they tend to turn into jam in the container on the way home. I’ve rarely invested the time in picking enough berries to can. But other folks are more perseverant. A close friend, for example, gave me a small jar of jam for Christmas. And so, I made cheesecake.

Ricotta Cheesecake with Wild Strawberry Jam

Ricotta Cheesecake with Wild Strawberry Jam

Yield: 8 to 10 servings

Inspired by chef Jenn Segal at onceuponachef.com
The topping of wild strawberry jam is exquisite all on its own, but if you want to gild the lily, try the optional addition of peaches simmered in honey and Amaretto. Peaches + strawberries = summer!

Ingredients

  • CRUST
  • ¾ cup whole raw almonds
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup almond flour
  • ¼ cup (packed) brown sugar
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • ½ tsp almond extract
  • FILLING
  • 8 oz full-fat cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 500 g (one small tub) ricotta cheese
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp amaretto
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • Zest of one orange, grated
  • TOPPING
  • ½ cup wild strawberry jam
  • OPTIONAL
  • 2 cups of sliced peaches, fresh or frozen
  • ¼ cup wildflower honey
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp Amaretto or 1 tsp almond extract

Instructions

    1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch spring-form pan and dust it with flour.
    2. To make the crust, place the almonds, flours, sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse until the mixture is the texture of coarse sand. Add the egg yolk, melted butter and almond extract. Pulse until evenly mixed. Transfer to the baking pan and press the mixture evenly into the base with your fingers. Freeze for 10 minutes to firm up. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until crust is just turning golden. Cool on a rack while you make the filling.
    3. Combine the cream cheese, sugar and salt in the food processor. Process until smooth. Add the ricotta and process again until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, pulsing for 5-10 seconds each time. Add the vanilla, amaretto, cornstarch and orange zest and process until just mixed.
    4. Pour the filling into the cooled crust, smoothing the top with a spatula or the back of a spoon. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until the top is lightly golden, the edges are set and the center is jiggly (it will keep cooking and firm up as it cools).
    5. Remove cake from the oven and cool on a rack to room temperature. Don’t worry if it sinks a bit. After it cools, run a knife between the cake and the rim of the pan to make sure it’s not sticking. Cover tightly and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight.
    6. Heat the honey and water in a small pot over medium low until simmering. Add the sliced peaches and simmer gently until the peaches have softened, about 3 minutes. Remove them from the liquid and place them in a bowl. Increase the heat under the pot to medium, add Amaretto or almond extract and reduce the mixture to ¼ cup. Pour over the fruit, cool, and refrigerate until you’re ready to serve. If there is leftover syrup after all the fruit is served, use it in bourbon-based cocktails.
    7. Once the cake has chilled, spread the strawberry jam evenly over top.To serve, release the cake from the rim of the pan, but leave it on the base. Slice individual pieces, wiping the knife clean between each slice, and serve the peaches in honey on the side, possibly with whipped cream.
    8. Makes one 9-inch cake, enough for 8 to10 servings.
https://whatsupyukon.com/yukon-food-drink/recipes/appetizers/adaptive-strategies/