[Like a strawberry milk – Vanilla cheesecake with strawberries]

cheesecake

As a child, I thought my dad was the coolest person to hang out with. And since he was – and still is – a work at home dad, I did get to spend a lot of time with him.

He would take me to his tennis tournaments, for tea at Rohr, to some fishing parties, or on the chantier [building site] he was working on.

And in between all of these, we would unconditionally stop at a café or a bistrot where he would get me a lait fraise [strawberry milk].

strawberries

A couple of days ago, as I landed on the French soil again after a night made of blur and tears, he greeted me with a roadtrip to St Tropez and a somewhat obvious – and quite providential to tell the truth – halt at a bar.

This time, lait fraise wasn’t ordered, but a glass of white wine felt like the perfect fit.

cheesecake baked

And just being there, sitting in the sun on a less-comfortable-to-admit-it designer chair, sipping through some golden drink-me potion, and maybe more importantly, spending time with the right people, everything fell into place.

cheesecake macaron detail

Sometimes, it does take longer than you’d think to find out that what you’re loosing might just have been what you – in fact – needed.

But it also takes some time to discover what opportunities the loss will bring.

cheesecake naked

And after a much essential grief state, it’s now the right moment to move on. Preferably under the sun, with a bottle or two of wine and the right people.

cheesecake macaron

A slice of vanilla cheesecake served with the very first strawberries might also help.

cheescake simple

Cheesecake à la vanille at aux fraises

Containing no flour, this cheesecake is all you would dream about. Thick, rich and creamy, it’s the closest I could get to the New York cheesecake I’ve never had.

I baked it in a classical 18 cm cake pan with a removable base lined with foil so the water from the bain-marie wouldn’t get in.
I chose to bake it at 140°C because my oven is fan-assisted and thus, feels really stronger than any other oven I’ve had in the past.

Whatever your oven is, just make sure you never bake it over 170°C.

As for the time, I would say around one hour, but make sure you check it every now and then after 45 minutes. It is baked when the centre is still a bit wobbly. Don’t worry it will set as it cools down.

I like to use whole-wheat digestive biscuits for the base as it gives a nice earthy contrast.

Cheesecake à la vanille at aux fraises

serves 8

for the base
90g butter, melted
150g whole-wheat digestive biscuits, crushed

for the cheesecake filling
450g cream cheese
150g caster sugar
2 eggs
seeds from one vanilla pod

for the strawberries
one handful of strawberries
4 tbsp caster sugar
a drizzle of balsamic vinegar

Preheat the oven to 140°C (see note above).

Place the melted butter and crushed biscuits into a bowl and mix until homogeneous. Line the bottom of a 18cm cake tin with it, gently pressing down with the back of a spoon.
Chill while you get on with the filling.

In a large bowl, combine the cream cheese, caster sugar, eggs and vanilla seeds using a hand-held whisk.
Pour it onto the biscuit base. And bake in a bain-marie for one hour or until just set.

Allow to cool on a rack. Then transfer the the fridge and chill for at least 4 hours.

Run a hot knife around the edges of the cheesecake and remove it from its tin. You can smooth the sides by pressing a hot spatula (dipped in almost boiling water, then quickly dried) around the edges.

Dice the strawberries, and combine with the sugar and vinegar. Set aside for an hour or two until all juicy.

To serve, you can either top the cheesecake with the strawberries, or slice the cheesecake into neat rectangles, then serve it along with the strawberries and perhaps a macaron filled with strawberry jam.