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Strawberries and Wine Flower Cheesecake

Put out this beautiful no-bake cheesecake at your next soiree and people might just think you're a professional baker! We used sliced strawberries and mandarin oranges to create the flower on top, but you can use other fruit to create your own design. Just make sure to avoid pineapple, kiwi, papaya, mango and guava, which all contain an enzyme that will prevent the gelatin from setting properly.
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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 7 hr 20 min (includes chilling time)
  • Active: 45 min
  • Yield: 9 to 12 servings
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Ingredients

Nonstick cooking spray, for the springform pan

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

12 ounces shortbread cookies (about 48 cookies), such as Lorna Doone 

Four 1/4-ounce packages unflavored powdered gelatin

1 pound cream cheese, at room temperature

1 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted

1/2 cup sour cream

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Pinch kosher salt

1 1/2 cups white cranberry juice

1/4 cup granulated sugar

2 1/2 cups chilled sweet white wine, such as Riesling

1 quart medium strawberries (about 20 total)

10 to 12 canned mandarin orange segments (from an 11-ounce can), drained well

Directions

  1. Spray the inside of a 9-inch springform pan that is at least 2 1/2 inches tall evenly with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. Microwave the butter in a small microwave-safe bowl until melted, about 45 seconds. Set aside. Put the shortbread cookies into a food processor and process until the cookies are broken down to fine crumbs. Add the melted butter and pulse until just combined and the mixture resembles wet sand. Do not overmix or the cookies will become pasty. 
  3. Press the crumb mixture evenly into the bottom of the prepared springform pan, then freeze while you make the cheesecake mixture. 
  4. Combine 1 package of gelatin with 2 tablespoons water in a small microwave-safe bowl and set aside to soften, about 5 minutes. Beat the cream cheese in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until completely smooth, about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the confectioners' sugar, sour cream, lemon juice, vanilla and salt and beat on medium-high speed until incorporated and smooth, about 1 minute. 
  5. Microwave the gelatin, stirring as needed, until melted, about 30 seconds. Add the gelatin to the cream cheese mixture and beat on medium-high speed to combine, about 30 seconds. Pour the cream cheese-gelatin mixture into the springform pan and smooth out the top. Tap the pan a few times on a flat tabletop to release any air bubbles in the cheesecake. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until set, about 2 hours.
  6. Once the cheesecake is set, prepare the white wine gelatin. Pour the white cranberry juice into a medium saucepan and sprinkle over the remaining 3 packages of gelatin. Let sit until the gelatin is absorbed, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the granulated sugar and heat over low heat, whisking occasionally, just until the gelatin and sugar dissolve, 1 to 2 minutes. 
  7. Pour the gelatin mixture into a large bowl and stir in the white wine. Use a spoon to scoop away any bubbles at the surface. Refrigerate, stirring every 10 minutes, until the gelatin just begins to thicken and is the consistency of thin fruit jelly, 30 to 45 minutes. 
  8. Meanwhile, trim away the green tops from the strawberries. The trimmed strawberries should be no longer than 1 1/2 inches tall (1 inch is ideal). Slice the strawberries into 1/4-inch-thick pieces, saving any small end pieces for another use. 
  9. Starting from the outside edge of the cheesecake, shingle the strawberries (pointed side outward and upward) in a circular pattern, leaning the tips of the strawberries against the edge of the pan, about 26 strawberry slices total. Continue this pattern, working inward and making 3 additional concentric circles with the strawberries overlapping each other, leaving at least 2 1/2 inches of empty space in the center of the cheesecake. (You may have strawberries left over.) Arrange the mandarin oranges in the center (rounded side outward and upward) so that the cheesecake is completely covered. 
  10. Use a large spoon to stir the gelatin until mostly smooth. Gently spoon the mixture evenly on top of the fruit, then use the back of an offset spatula to smooth out the top as much as possible. (For a really smooth top, dip the offset spatula into boiling water, wipe it dry and smooth out the top further.) Refrigerate the cheesecake until the gelatin is completely set, at least 4 hours and up to overnight. 
  11. Use an offset spatula to carefully loosen the sides of the cheesecake from the pan, then open the clasp and remove the outer ring. Cut into slices and serve immediately.