There is this short period of time in which rhubarb and strawberries are both in season. I guess there is a reason behind that because together they are an absolute dream team. Like ying and yang, Laurel and Hardy or peanutbutter and Nutella. So what to do to get the most out of that time? Well, strawberry-rhubarb-jam is always an idea. Or strawberry-rhubarb-sirup. Or maybe strawberry-rhubarb-cheesecake.
This recipe was a spontaneous idea which followed some not so spontaneous inspiration and testing. So far, my only cheesecake success is my mom´s recipe. But cheesecakes that are made without baking always managed to turn out wrong at one point or another. Either they would be too stiff or they would fall apart. Things turned even worse once I started substituting gelatin for a vegetarian alternative. Somehow agar agar is not my friend. Freezing it might be an alternative but I was determined to make it work. This time it didn’t turn out too bad I guess.
The idea to mix the fruit with the rest of the ingredients instead of using at as decoration was heavily inspired by this recipe. This also has the advantage that you don´t need so much sugar, since the strawberries are sweet enough by themselves. I only used honey in this recipe, but feel free to substitute with maple sirup or sugar.
Notes to the recipe:
- The cake turned out pretty stiff but I would still recommend chilling it overnight and serving it pretty quickly once it is cut. Otherwise it will slowly start to fall apart. Maybe adding more agar-agar would also be a good idea.
- I used cantuccini for the base because I like the combination of cookie and almonds. Feel free to use regular cookies if you like.
- Since I only used honey, the cake is not so sweet. Just taste the mixture in between and add more honey if you prefer it a bit sweeter. Also, the riper the strawberries, the sweeter they are and thus the sweeter the cake.
For a 20 cm spring pan:
150 g Cantuccini
70 g butter
500 g strawberries
250 g rhubarb
1 vanilla bean
8 tbsp. honey or maple sirup
1 bag agar agar (vegetarian gelatin)
250 g quark or cream cheese
250 g mascarpone
1) Crumble cantuccini cookies. Melt butter and mix with the crumbles. Line the spring pan with parchment paper and pour the mixture on top. Press with fingers until the spring pan is evenly covered and let chill in the fridge.
2) Wash strawberries and rhubarb. Cut into little pieces and place in a pot, together with 4 tbsp. of honey and the core of the vanilla bean. Heat until it is cooking, let simmer until the rhubarb is soft. Add agar agar, increase heat and let cook for another 2 minutes. Let the mixture cool until lukewarm or cold.
3) Add quark, mascarpone and the rest of the honey. Pour the mixture on top of the crust and let chill for a couple of hours or overnight in the fridge. Serve with fresh berries.