There aren’t too many fruits that hold as much awe and wonder for me as strawberries. It’s so versatile and pairs with so many things.
Salads, other fruits, chocolate, even yogurt…
Greek yogurt in this case.
I came across an absolutely mouthwatering delight of a recipe for Greek yogurt cheesecake bars on one of my favorite foodie blogs Eat Live Run, pinned it to my strawberry obsession Pinterest board and made a note to come back to it.
I just couldn’t wait though. I kept going back and looking at it over and over again. The beautiful glistening strawberries, glazed in strawberry jam…
The moist cheesecake with a twist that promised a slightly different treat…
Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore and decided I needed to dive in. Of course, I simply can’t just leave a recipe as is and wanted to experiment with a slightly lighter, gluten-free crust.
After researching and playing a bit with different paleo and traditional gluten-free ingredients, I have what I think is a real winner for an “almost shortbread” creation that is light, but still buttery in flavor.
The coconut flour in the crust gives the entire bar a bit more of a… tropical flair, but the ghee (basically just clarified butter) adds a richness that any shortbread would feel naked without.
Topping it with fresh, Florida-grown strawberries, sliced and slathered in jam puts a wonderful finishing touch on the entire treat, sure to delight your taste buds.
So, to create this lusciously layered little dish, let’s start with what you need to whip this at home.
For the Crust
- 1/12 cup coconut flour, sifted
- 1/2 cup real maple syrup
- 12 TBSP Ghee
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 2 pinches salt
For the Cheesecake Filling & Topping
- 2 cups plain Greek yogurt (I used 2%, but you can use whole for a richer filling)
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1tsp vanilla extract
- 1 TBSP cornstarch
- pinch of salt
- 1/2 cup strawberry jam
- 1 pt fresh strawberries sliced (approx 2 cups when you’ve cut them up)
- additional jam for topping (approx 1/2 cup)
Now let’s get down to work.
Tip: Be sure to prepare this several hours ahead of any special occasions you plan to serve it at, because, while it is simple to prepare, the cooking, freezing and cooling time takes several (3.75 to be exact) hours. You can make the day before and the add the strawberry topping right before serving if that’s easier.
Starting with the crust, use a hand or standing mixer and blend all crust ingredients together in a large bowl for one minute on med-high speed. Dough will be slightly sticky, so spoon into a plastic bag, or form into a soft ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Then pop it in the freezer for about 20 minutes.
Preheat oven to 200 degrees (F).
Butter an 8″ square pan generously (glass or metal, but note glass will take a bit longer in the oven to cook) with either butter or coconut oil.
Remove the dough from the freezer and then warm up slightly by working with your hands (the outside will be cooler than the inside, so this helps get everything to the same temp and makes the dough more manageable).
With your fingers and/or a tablespoon, pat the dough into a 1/4″ thick layer on the bottom of the pan and about an inch up the side of the greased pan. Ensure it’s all evenly spread out and relatively smooth. Then place it on the middle rack of your oven for 30 minutes or until just lightly golden.
Set aside on a counter top to cool for about 150-20 minutes.
Now, for the scrumptious and creamy filling…
Increase your oven temperature to 350 degrees (F).
In a food processor, blend the yogurt, sugar, eggs and vanilla until smooth. Then add cornstarch and salt and blend again. Pour the filling into the cooled crust. Take the 1/2 cup of strawberry jam and drop into a sandwich bag. Snip one of the bottom corners of the bag off with scissors (not too big, but not too small) and squeeze the jam around the top of the filling.
Bake for 35-40 minutes (your pan type will matter here). The top should be set, but still have a nice little jiggle to it.
Cool for 2-3 hours in the fridge.
About an hour before you want to serve, take sliced strawberries and lay them across the top of the cheesecake.
Zap the other 1/2 cup of strawberry jam in the microwave for 10-15 seconds (or warm in a small saucepan until liquidy) and then brush on top of the strawberries with a pastry brush. This keeps the strawberries bright and glossy, as well as sort of locking them into place. You can either pop back int he fridge or cut and serve.
Of course, if you’re like me, the first piece won’t make it to the table…
It really does taste like it should be a sinful dessert, but this gluten-free, fruity, bite is probably one of the healthier adaptations of strawberry cheesecake I’ve made!
Now, I must go have another piece and enjoy those fresh berries while they’re still in season!