I’m really into square-shaped treats right now and with the arrival of strawberries, I decided to update last year’s cheesecake tart to square format. The filling is a blend of cream cheese and mascarpone for a richer flavor. The homemade graham crust is baked till crisp and holds up nicely. I may have been a bit generous with the thickness, as seen in the photo, so I’d scale back a tad so it doesn’t overpower the filling. And last but not least, the topping! This is your chance to show off juicy, in-season berries. I use strawberries here but feel free to use whatever is in-season.
Mascarpone Cheesecake Squares with Strawberries
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup graham flour
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons honey
Filling: (ingredients at room temperature)
12 oz. cream cheese
4 oz. mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup granulated sugar
pinch of kosher salt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
zest and juice from 1/2 lemon
1 pint of strawberries, hulled and halved
2 tablespoons of sugar, plus more depending on ripeness
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2/3 cup heavy whipping cream, cold
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
For the crust:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line a 8″ square pan with parchment paper on the bottom and up the sides.
In a food processor, pulse the flours, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt until combined. Add the butter and honey and pulse until incorporated and crumbs are moist. Press evenly into the base and 2 inches up the sides of the pan. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until golden and firm to the touch. Remove from the oven and place the pan on a rack to cool.
Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees.
For the filling:
Make sure all the ingredients are at room temperature, so you’ll have a super smooth mixture. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, add the two cheeses, sugar, salt. Beat until smooth. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl. Add eggs one at a time, incorporating each just until blended. Add the heavy cream, vanilla, lemon zest and juice, and combine just until blended. Pour the mixture into the cooled crust and smooth out the top.
Return to the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes or until set. The filling should jiggle slightly in the center. If it cracks that’s okay. That’s what the delicious topping is for! Remove the cheesecake from the oven and let cool completely on a rack, approximately 2-3 hours. Then, cover loosely with plastic wrap and place the cheesecake in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours or overnight to let the flavors meld together. It will also be much easier to slice when chilled.
The cheesecake will keep in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. I would recommend topping only when ready to serve.
For the topping:
Combine the strawberries, sugar and lemon juice and let sit 10 minutes to allow the berries to macerate and create a lovely strawberry juice.
Meanwhile, in the stand mixer, with the whisk attachment, whip together the heavy cream and powdered sugar to soft peaks.
Spread a layer of whipped cream on top of the cheesecake. Spoon the sliced berries on top. Pour the strawberry liquid over.