Double-Sized Gluten-Free No-Bake Strawberry Cheesecake
We’re gluten eaters ourselves, but one of our favorite dinner guests can’t eat gluten and we spend a lot of time thinking up ways of delighting her with gluten-free foods. No egrets made this with strawberries [I recommend Connors Farm strawberries, but rumor has it Marini’s has lovely strawberries too.] but it will be great with other berries once blueberry and raspberry season comes around. Don’t forget that berries freeze well, and cheesecake brightens up anyone’s February.
2 bags Trader Joe’s (or other) Gluten-Free Ginger Snaps (or regular ginger snaps)
1 stick (1/4 lb.) butter, softened
3/4 lb. fresh, cleaned berries
2 8-oz. packages cream cheese, low-fat cream cheese, or a mix of 8-oz. cream cheese and 8-oz. goat cheese, softened
1/4 cup organic or turbinado sugar, or honey. Hardcore Yankees can try maple syrup (slightly shy of 1/4 cup), with a bit more arrowroot starch.
1½ tsp. arrowroot (tapioca) starch (or more if the berries are very juicy)
3 oz. very dark chocolate
8 oz. whipping cream
¼ tsp. fresh vanilla bean, pulverized
Eat ½ bag of ginger snaps, and put the rest through the Cuisinart to make crumbs [Ed. note: In my single, pre-Cuisinart days, I put ginger snaps (or graham crackers) into a bag and beat them into crumbs with an empty beer bottle. This process seemed to take less time if I drank the beer first.]. Melt butter and blend by hand until the crumbs are slightly wet.
Pack the crust around the inside of an 8″–9″ springform pan, or a skillet (the skillet is a nice presentation, but it’s hard to serve from)—just press it in there, and work over the bumps, and pack more crumbs in wherever it looks thin. This makes a nice, thick, slightly spicy graham cracker crust, which will cohere nicely in under 12 hours. Put it in the fridge and move on.
Put cream cheese and sugar in your mixing bowl and beat it until it is soft and smooth. If it is lumpy, put your hands on the outside of the bowl to warm it as the machine beats the cheese mixture (this works with buttercreams, too). Add 2/3 of the berries and arrowroot starch (slowly!) and beat until the mixture is an even pink or purple or blue. Then spoon it into the crust.
Arrowroot starch, or tapioca starch, is the traditional thickener for pie glazes. It dissolves well and makes a nice clear (not cloudy like flour) and non-pasty-tasting medium. It’s great for turkey gravy, too.
Now, take all of the leftover berries and push them into the top of the pie. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler (or a microwave, you slugabed), and drizzle it over the top of everything. [Ed. note: This last touch is what will make your dinner guests go “ooohhhh”; your significant other may propose marriage on the spot.]
Clean your mixer and whip the cream; add fresh vanilla bean, but NOT vanilla extract if you’re keeping gluten-free.
If anyone knows of other good brands of gluten-free ginger snaps, or has a recipe, send it along!