This dessert just screams summer!
At our wedding reception we didn’t have a grooms cake. We had a table of grooms cheesecakes – five different ones, if I remember correctly. This cheesecake was one of them. It’s got a wonderful tangy, clean flavor and it’s quite satisfying to make your own cheesecake.
This recipe is pretty straight forward, as far as cheesecakes go. The instructions below are specific but simple and if followed should yield a cheesecake that isn’t dry and hopefully doesn’t crack! Even if it does the strawberry sauce on top covers that up 😉
This is a recipe you need to make the day before or early in the morning if it’s to be served that same evening because it needs to chill for 8 hours.
The crust is the same one from our Heavenly Berry Chocolate Pie recipe and it’s grain free. Instead of putting the crust in a pie dish I put it in a springform pan for this recipe. This is pretty commonplace for making a cheesecake so you can lift the sides of the pan off once it’s cooled but you can prepare this cheesecake in a pie dish if you want to, no problem.
This time of year you can find bags of small key limes and squeeze them by hand for the 1/2 C of juice you need for the recipe. They are small enough that using a juicer isn’t so easy so this part of the recipe is a bit of a labor of love, as I like to call it. But, it’s worth it and makes the satisfaction level with this cheesecake even higher!
You can use regular limes if you cannot find key limes. The key lime just gives it the most authentic flavor.
I went ahead and used cane sugar in this recipe. Just purchase organic and make sure it’s cane sugar and not white sugar from sugar beets (a GMO crop).
This recipe is a real-food dessert that would fit into the category of foods you eat occasionally that are still clean, non GMO and in moderation. I usually make it once or twice every summer. It’s a yummy seasonal recipe we look forward to each year like a pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving or eggnog at Christmas.
If you experiment with another sweetener whether that be a liquid such as honey (you would have to compensate somehow elsewhere in the recipe for all that added liquid) or something else, let us know how it turns out! We didn’t use coconut sugar because it would have made the cheesecake a brown color. I tried date sugar because its blonder than coconut sugar but it really wouldn’t dissolve and gave the cake a speckled, still brown-ish look.
If you decide to indulge this summer I hope you enjoy!
For the crust:
- 8-10 oz organic pecan halves or pieces (this will make 1 1/2 – 2 C pecan meal)
- 4 Tbs butter , melted
- 2 Tbs honey
- 1 Tbs coconut flour , optional
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon , optional
For the filling:
- -3, (8 oz) full fat cream cheese , preferably organic and w/o additives like carrageenan, room temperature
- -1 C organic cane sugar
- -3 eggs , pasture-raised is best
- -8oz sour cream , full fat, grass-fed is great, no additives (Kalona has a good one)
- -1 1/2 tsp key lime zest
- -1/2 C key lime juice , freshly squeezes (you can also use regular limes)
For strawberry sauce:
- -1 1/4 C fresh strawberries , halved, steams & leaves removed
- -1/4 C honey
- 1 tsp lime zest
First, make your crust:
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
- Thoroughly butter a standard size springform pan or pie dish. About 9 inches, round.
- In a small sauce pot set your 4 Tbs of butter over medium heat so it can melt while you’re working with the pecans.
- Using a food processor, pulse 8 to 10 oz pecans (halves or pieces – organic is best) until you have a meal about the consistency of heavy sand. Stop twice or so to scrape down the sides of the bowl. You want to see how course the pecans still look and make sure you aren’t making pecan butter!
- In a medium size mixing bowl place your fresh pecan meal, salt, cinnamon (optional), coconut flour (if using – it just helps to bind), melted butter and honey. Mix with a spatula until thoroughly combined. It will feel like course, very wet Play-Doh.
- Dump the mixture into the middle of your buttered pan or dish and use your hands to press it into a thin (you know, normal crust thickness) layer from the center out and up the sides. Watch our crust-making video above to see how I do it.
- Place your crust into the oven for 18 min. You can check a few minutes early but this shouldn’t over cook it unless you have some very thin spots. Even so, it will just be a bit browner. Nothing to worry about. The crust will firm up as it cools.
- Your crust does need to cool at least a bit before putting in the filling so you can make it earlier in the day or the day before and just wait to make your filling when you’re ready to put it in the crust. It doesn’t take long.
Make your filling and bake the cheesecake:
- First, I like to get my lime juice ready. Juice all your limes. This is my husbands job when I make this cake! It may be easiest just to cut them in half and squeeze them all very well with your fingers. Pour the juice through a mesh sieve/strainer to get any pulp out. Set aside.
- Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.
- In a medium to large size mixing bowl mix all your cream cheese and the sugar until it’s smooth and without any lumps. I use a hand mixer like this one but you could also use a stand mixer.
- Now, add your eggs one at a time, mixing between each addition until thoroughly combined.
- Add the lime juice, sour cream and zest (I like this zester) to the mixture and mix again until smooth. It will have a pretty soupy consistency. This is right.
- Pour the mixture into your prepared crust. Make sure it’s not hot. Warm is OK. It’s going back into the oven, after all.
- Place an oven proof casserole dish with about an inch of water in it inside the oven on the bottom rack. This may not be necessary but it can keep the inside of the oven more humid and help to keep your cheesecake from cracking. I tested two cakes for this post. The first one had the water in the oven with it and did not crack. The second one did not have water and it did crack. I did everything else the same.
- Place your cheesecake on the rack above the water and bake for 1 hour and 5 minutes.
- At the end of the 1 hour and 5 minutes turn your oven off and crack the door open. Do not take the cake out. Let it sit like that with the oven door open for 15 minutes.
- After 15 minutes take the cake out of the oven and allow it to cool completely at room temperature.
- The cake will still be very jiggly but the top should be set and the entire filling should move as a whole when jiggled. It will be softer in the center.
- When your cheesecake is cooled place it in the fridge to set up for 8 hours or more.
Make the strawberry sauce topping:
- In your food processor or blender place the halved strawberries, the honey and the key lime zest.
- Pulse and blend until its a smooth sauce. You’ll probably need to stop and scrape down the sides with a spatula a few times.
- Pour into the center of the chilled cheesecake at serving time.