When I was a consultant for a national food-centric direct sales company, I became a bit addicted to their cheesecake product. It was so simple–just mix with cream cheese for a spread or with cream cheese and whipped topping for a no-bake cheesecake–that I went through bottle after bottle of the mix. I told myself it was okay. This was an all-natural company, and there was no junk in the blend. But really, I was just making excuses for stuffing gobs of fake cheesecake in my maw.
Since parting ways with that company, I’ve had to come to terms with the absence of fake cheesecake in my life. No longer forced to purchase product to ensure I met my quarterly quotas, I stopped buying it altogether. I probably had more money in my pocket once I took that stance than at any time when I was “selling.” Live and learn.
Still, it haunted me. Strawberry cheesecake in no time at all. And finally, when I was perusing the aisles of my local Target recently, it hit me–freeze dried strawberries! Aha! They would be the key to reproducing this madness on my own!
The ease of this recipe is beyond ridiculous. I won’t be able to get back all that money I wasted buying something that could so easily be replicated at home. (It also made me feel a bit like a jerk for convincing other people they needed those products in their lives… no wonder why I was never good at sales.) I opted for a dippable consistency, but you can cut back on the half-and-half for a bagel spread or add more if you like a more soupy dip. I tasted it after each tablespoon added and the half-and-half doesn’t greatly dilute the final product’s taste. I do insist upon organic half-and-half, as the ingredients are simply milk and cream–no unnecessary extras. Other than that, have at it. And play around with other freeze-dried fruits. The variations are endless!
- ⅓ cup freeze dried strawberries
- 4 ounces cream cheese, softened (I recommend full-fat cream cheese for best texture)
- 3 Tablespoons confectioner's sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ cup + 1 Tablespoon organic half-and-half
- In a mini food processor (or in a sealed zip top bag with a rolling pin), pulverize the freeze dried strawberries.
- Add the cream cheese, confectioner's sugar, vanilla, and half-and-half and pulse until you get a nice smooth mixture (should only take 30 seconds or so). (If you don't have a food processor, just stir and stir and stir until well blended.)
- Transfer to a small bowl and serve.
- This can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator in an air-tight container for up to 3 days before using.