Strawberry Basil Cheesecake Bites
Do you ever get hit with an idea, and you’re not sure if it’s a “good” idea per se, but you know you absolutely won’t stop until you see the idea realized? That’s kind of how these strawberry basil cheesecake bites came about. I asked Twitter what I should make and cheesecake was a common answer. But, as I explained to my friend, I can’t just do something plain. “Why not add strawberries?” he asked. To which I replied, “If I’m adding strawberries, why not basil?” To which he replied, “What?”
But hear me out: strawberries, basil, and balsamic are a classic combo. They might not be the most common, but the herbal grassiness of the basil and the sharp tang of the balsamic counteract the natural sweetness of the strawberries and make a more complex dessert than, say, a regular cheesecake. So you can see why I chose to jazz it up a bit! If you’re not sold on the idea, you can of course leave out the basil. But I definitely encourage you to be a little adventurous!
Oh yes, I mentioned balsamic. There is balsamic vinegar in the strawberry compote topping, which really shouldn’t be left out! It’s just a hint, nothing overpowering, but it adds a depth to an otherwise overly sweet compote. Acid is added to things like jams, jellies, and compotes to aid in the breaking down of the fruit and setting of the resulting product. Normally you’d use lemon juice, as the floral notes complement the fruit, but here we’re throwing in balsamic vinegar. Just like the brown butter in my chocolate chip cookie recipe, it adds that grown-up je ne sais quoi that you didn’t even know you were missing.
Regardless of whether you choose to add basil or not to your cheesecakes, they are going to require a topping of some sort. Unlike the cool, calm, and collected approach I had you take with my apple pie cheesecake, you can just whip these babies out of the oven and cool them in record time. No gentle propping of the oven door, no cooling for hours on the counter before you date to touch the fridge. Just bring them out and leave them to cool in the tins so they cook a little longer before popping them out to cool on a baking rack. This means that they go from puffy to sunken and cracked real fast, but the little dip this creates is perfect for holding a filling, and the filling hides the cracks. Win-win-win.
I hope you enjoy this strawberry basil cheesecake bites recipe, as it’s a little different from most dessert recipes you’ll find. Whether you’re bold and include the basil, or play it safe and make them plain, you’re sure to come out with a party-pleasing dessert that’s easy to share. Or sneak from the fridge at midnight. Whatever floats your boat. Until next time, here’s to good drinking, great eating, and even better living!
Strawberry Basil Cheesecake Bites
- 12-hole muffin tin
- cupcake liners
For the cheesecake bites
- 12 round vanilla wafer cookies
- 16 oz cream cheese (softened)
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 Tbsp chopped fresh basil
For the strawberry balsamic sauce
- 250 g strawberries (tops trimmed off)
- 250 g sugar
- 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a muffin tin with cupcake liners. Place a vanilla wafer cookie in the bottom of each liner.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the cream cheese and sugar until smooth, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs and vanilla, and beat until well incorporated, about 2 more minutes. Stir in the chopped basil.
- Pour the mixture into each cupcake liner, filling it about 3/4 of the way full. Bake for 20 minutes, then cool in the tin for about 10 minutes. Gently lift the cheesecake cups from the tin and continue cooling for 50 minutes.
- While the cheesecake cups are cooling, make the sauce by placing the sugar, strawberries, and vinegar in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for about 30 minutes, until thickened but not set like a jelly or jam.
- Before serving, add a tablespoon of strawberry-balsamic sauce to the cheesecake cup. Keep leftover strawberry sauce in an airtight jar in the fridge for up to two weeks, and wrap and refrigerate any leftover cheesecake cups for up to 5 days.