Micki’s Manhattan Cheesecake
¾ c. Gluten-free, oatmeal flour
¾ c. finely chopped pecans
2 Tbls. brown sugar
1/3 c. unsalted organic butter, melted
1 ½ lbs. cream cheese, at room temperature
¾ c brown sugar, divided
5 large organic egg yolks
½ c. organic heavy cream
2 tsp (GF) pure vanilla extract
1 ½ tsp freshly grated lemon zest
1 ½ tsp freshly grated orange zest
3 large organic egg whites
¾ c Gluten-free Apricot Fruit spread
1 Tbls. water
*Position the rack in the lower third of the oven. Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Generously butter the springform pan.
*MAKE THE CRUST
Mix the oatmeal flour, pecans and sugar. Stir in butter until moistened. Press into bottom of springform pan. Refrigerate.
*MAKE THE FILLING
Mix cream cheese and ½ c sugar in a bowl. Scrape down sides and mix again. Add egg yolks and mix until blended. Add cream, vanilla, and the lemon and orange zests and mix.
In a large mixer or large bowl, beat egg whites to soft peaks. Add the remaining ¼ c sugar, 1 TBSP at a time, beating until the whites are shiny, about 45 seconds. With a rubber spatula, fold one-fourth of the cheese mixture into the whites, taking about 10 turns to lighten. Fold in the remaining cheese mixture, taking an additional 30 turns.
Pour the batter into the pan. Set the pan on an 18-inch square of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Mold it around the side of the pan to catch any batter that might leak. Bake for 40 minutes. If not set, cook 5 to 10 minutes longer, but DO NOT over cook or cheesecake will crack.
At the end of the baking time, turn off the oven and leave door ajar or prop open with the handle of a wooden spoon. Cool the cake in the oven for 1 hour longer. Remove from the oven, discard the foil, and place the pan on a cake rack to cool for at least 3 hours. Refrigerate until ready to prepare strawberry topping.
*MAKE THE STRAWBERRY TOPPING
In a small saucepan, combine the apricot preserves and water or juice, bring to a slow boil over low heat, and continue to cook until the preserves are completely melted. Remove from the heat. Strain to remove large pieces. Return to the saucepan. Set aside.
Wash, hull, and dry the berries well on several layers of paper toweling. Slice them in half lengthwise.
Arrange the berries cut sides down around the edge of the cheesecake with the points of the berries facing outward. Arrange a second circle inside the first, with points of the berries extending inward. The bottoms of the berries should touch. Fill in the center randomly.
Arrange a second layer of berries on top of the first, beginning ½ inch from the edge of the cake. Extend the points outward, placing them in the spaces between the points of the first layer of berries. Arrange the second layer with points extending outward also. Fill in the top with berries’ points extended outward. Continue circling the top with the points of the berries outward, making a third and fourth layer if necessary. The design will resemble a rosette. The cake may now be refrigerated for 4 to 6 hours, covered loosely with wax paper.
Remove the cake from the refrigerator 1 hour before serving. Shortly before you are ready to serve it, warm the apricot preserves over low heat. (DO NOT glaze the berries until just before serving or they will become soft and runny.) With a pastry brush, lightly coat the berries, taking care not to disturb the design. If the preserves are too thick, thin them with a few drops of hot water.
STORAGE: Refrigerate, covered loosely with a foil tent, for up to 3 days.