Two 8-ounce packages cream cheese, at room temperature
2/3 cup granulated white sugar
pinch of salt
2 large eggs
1/3 cup sour cream
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the strawberry puree:
24 oz very ripe strawberries, hulled (or no-sugar-added frozen strawberries)
1-2 tsp sugar (optional)
(see FAQ above for alternate strawberry puree method)
For the cake:
1/4-1/2 cup milk, at room temperature
6 large egg whites, room temperature (4 whole eggs can be substituted, per reader comments)
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/4 cup cake flour, sifted
1 3/4 cup sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
12 Tbsp unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), at room temp
12 ounces (1½ packages) cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room, temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup strawberry puree (frozen strawberries thawed and blended in a blender)
1 tablespoon heavy whipping cream
2 to 3 cups powdered sugar
fresh strawberries and/or slivers of white chocolate, as desired
For the Cake:
If frozen strawberries in whatever form (sliced, whole, etc) and in whatever container/bag you have them in. Pour into a fine strainer placed over a bowl and let sit. Lightly toss the strawberries occasionally to remove any pockets of excess liquid. Reserve the liquid for another use or discard (see FAQ above for alternate use of the liquid).
If using fresh strawberries, just hull, slice and toss with a teaspoon or two of sugar and cover. Let them sit at room temperature for a couple of hours, until nice and juicy.
Place strawberries in a food processor or blender and puree.
Reserve 3/4 cup puree for the cake. (If you are using the cooked puree method from the FAQ above, you will only use 1/2 cup puree.)
Use leftover puree to fill the cake or fold into the frosting, if desired (you will not have leftover puree if you use the cooked puree method). It's also fabulous spooned over ice cream... and eaten straight with a spoon.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare two 8- or 9-inch pans: spray inside with baking spray with flour (or use some sort of grease/flour combination).
In small bowl, combine puree, milk (if you used the cooked puree method in the FAQ above, you'll use 1/2 cup of milk and 1/2 cup of puree; if you did not cook your puree, use 1/4 cup of milk and 3/4 cup of puree), egg, vanilla and mix with fork until well blended. In bowl of stand mixer, add sifted flour, sugar, baking powder and salt and mix to combine. Continue beating at slow speed and add butter. Mix until combined and resembling moist crumbs.
Add wet ingredients and beat at medium speed for about 1 minute or until full and evenly combined. Stop mixer to scrape down the sides of the bowl and hand beat for 30 more seconds.
Note: The batter will not get any pinker in the oven so if you're disappointed in the color from your berries, maybe consider adding a drop or two of pink or red food coloring.
Divide the batter evenly among the pans and smooth tops.
Bake for about 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (time will vary). Let cakes rest in pan for about 10 minutes and turn out onto wire racks. Let cakes cool completely (about 2 hours).
For the Cheesecake:
PREPARE THE CHEESECAKE LAYER:
Preheat the oven to 325 F. Spray a 9-inch springform pan with nonstick spray.
In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to blend the cream cheese until it is smooth and creamy, 1 to 2 minutes. Mix in the sugar and salt and blend for 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl to make sure all is mixed in. Add the eggs, one at a time, blending after each addition. Finally, mix in the sour cream, whipping cream and vanilla. Mix until smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
Bake the cheesecake for 45 minutes. It should be set to the touch and not jiggly. It might be cracked on top- it doesn't matter. Let it cool on a wire rack for at least an hour. When it has cooled, place the pan into the freezer and let the cheesecake freeze completely (4 to 5 hours or overnight).
PREPARE THE CAKE:
Bake two- 9-inch round strawberry cake layers (your recipe preference- see ingreds and NOTES below for suggestions)
PREPARE THE FROSTING:
Use an electric mixer to combine the cream cheese and the butter, and beat until smooth. Add the vanilla, strawberry puree and cream and continue to mix until well combined. Mix in 2 cups of the powdered sugar. Add the third cup a little at a time until you reach a consistency that you're happy with. You may not use it all, or you may use more. It just needs to be thick enough to be spreadable.
ASSEMBLE THE CAKE:
Place one cake layer into the center of a cake plate or platter. Remove the cheesecake from the freezer, take off the sides of the pan, and slide a knife under the the cheesecake to release it from the pan. Trim the cheesecake, as needed to match the size of your cake layers (see *NOTES below). Put a little bit of frosting on top of the first layer of cake. Place the cheesecake layer on top of the first cake layer. Put a little more frosting on top of the cheesecake. Place the second cake layer on top of the cheesecake.
FROST THE CAKE:
Apply a crumb coat layer of frosting to the cake (see *NOTES below), and refrigerate the cake for 30 minutes, or until the frosting is set. Apply the second layer of frosting, if needed. Decorate, as desired, and refrigerate until ready to serve.