July 4th happens to fall smack dab in the middle of Maine’s short strawberry season. Usually.
This year, our U-Pick haul was so impressive, I made 10 jars of strawberry jam, froze 1 qt. of crushed berries (for smoothies), made strawberry lemonade for the most special 5 year old guest, and fed Izzy and the chickens their fair-share. And I still have a quart or two to eat in their purest, simplest form.
It’s hard for me to concentrate when I see rows and rows of perfectly plump, ruby strawberries. I couldn’t decide whether to toss the berries in my mouth or in my bucket. By the end an hour, we had a beautiful collection of berries, ranging in size from a dime to the size of my palm (and I have big hands), all equally as juicy and flavorful.
For the perfectly formed, small sweet berries, I wanted to showcase them in a summer dessert. I also wanted it to be festive for the holiday, so I arranged them on the top of a lemon-lime cheesecake.
The saltine cracker crust was inspired by Bill Smith’s Atlantic Beach Pie. And the very thought of the slightly salty, crumbly crust reminded me of the ocean I visited every summer growing up. This crust, topped with a thick layer of tart, citrusy, creamy cheesecake is balanced with a remarkable layer of fresh berries. Round out each piece with a dollop of fresh whipped cream and you have one killer summer dessert.
The Cast: Lemon-Lime Cheesecake with Saltine Cracker Crust
Salty, buttery saltine cracker crust
Creamy, slightly tangy cheesecake filling
Tart lemon-lime flavor
Sweet ripe berries
- For the Crust
- 1½ sleeves of salted saltine crackers
- 1 stick salted butter (1/2 cups), melted
- 2 Tbsp. sugar
- For the pie
- 4 packages of full-fat cream cheese (2 pounds total)
- 1 cup sugar
- Zest of one lemon and one lime, fine
- Juice of above 1 lemon and 1 lime (should be a little over ⅓ cup)
- 2 Tbsp. all purpose flour
- 2 tsp. vanilla
- 5 eggs
- For the Topping
- ½ cup small, fresh strawberries
- ½ cup blueberries
- ½ cup raspberries
- 2 Tbsp. powdered sugar
- Whipped Cream, optional
- With your hands or with a food processor, crush crackers finely but not too finely (you want the cracker crumbs somewhere between the size of Panko and Rice Krispies).
- Transfer crumbs to a bowl. Add the sugar. Add the melted butter and mix until the mixture holds together. Press mixture into a springform pan, coming up about ½ inch on the sides.
- Chill for 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven 325 degrees.
- Bake crust for 10 minutes. Remove and cool slightly.
- In a large bowl, beat together the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add zest, lemon and lime juice, flour, and vanilla and beat until well incorporated.
- Add eggs, one at a time, beating between additions, until mixture is smooth.
- Add cream cheese filling to the cooled saltine crust.
- To bake, position racks in the center of your oven and one right below center.
- Fill a 8x8 glass pan or 8 inch glass bowl with water, place on a baking sheet, and position it on the lower of the two racks.
- Place cheesecake right above the pan of water on the center rack. Close door and bake for 55-60 minutes.
- Once center has set, remove cheesecake from oven. Set on a wire rack. Let cool for about 20 minutes.
- Run a knife around the edge.
- Let cool for one hour more at room temperature.
- Place in fridge overnight.
- Right before serving, pour powdered sugar in a fine mesh sieve. Dust over raspberries until coated white.
- Arrange strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries over the cake.
- Serve with whipped cream.