8oz.cream cheese, room temperature (let cream cheese soften on the counter - I softened it in the microwave once, and it was a total disaster!)
1tsp.pure vanilla extract
5oz.premium semi-sweet chocolate morsels
3oz.premium milk chocolate morsels
1Tbs.graham cracker crumbs
Prepare the Strawberries
Slice off the stem of each strawberry; use a paring knife to scoop out the top center of each berry, making a cavity down inside. Use a corner of a paper towel, to gently pat each strawberry cavity as dry as you can. Set the prepared berries aside.
Make the Cheesecake Filling
In a mixing bowl, combine the softened cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla using an electric mixer, beating until smooth and glossy. Place the prepared cheesecake mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a large fluted or close-star tip; reserve.
Melt the Chocolate
Place the chocolate morsels into a glass bowl; microwave the chocolate on full power in 30 second increments, using a small silicone spatula to stir the chocolate between each interval until it fully melted, smooth and glossy. Pour the melted chocolate into a small, deep bowl to making dipping the strawberries easier.
Assemble the Chocolate Cheesecake Strawberries
Using your fingertips, dip each strawberry into the melted chocolate. Set the chocolate dipped strawberry onto a baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper.
After chocolate on each strawberry has set up a bit to hold the strawberry in place on the parchment paper, pipe the reserved cream cheese mixture in the pastry bag into the cavity of each strawberry, mounding it a bit at the top of each one, as desired.
Sprinkle a smidgen of graham cracker crumbs onto the cream cheese filling at the top of each strawberry to garnish, as desired.
Strawberries are best served at room temperature within 6-8 hours of preparation.
Use full-fat or low-fat cream cheese - either one works just fine for this recipe.
Whatever you do, don't soften the cream cheese in the microwave. Let it rest at room temperature to soften. If you try to soften the cream cheese in the microwave, it won't set up enough to be piped into the strawberries....no matter how much powdered sugar you add! (Been there....done that.)
Use a good-quality chocolate for this recipe. I like Ghiradelli chocolate but any premium chocolate will melt very nicely. I like a blend of semi-sweet chocolate and milk chocolate, but use what your tastes prefer.
Once you've melted the chocolate, if it begins to set up too quickly, add a tiny bit of vegetable oil, reheating the chocolate in the microwave just slightly. Never add any other type of liquid to melted chocolate.
Store the chocolate cheesecake strawberries in the fridge until you are ready to serve them; they will only keep for 6-8 hours before they begin to weep a bit from the moisture in the berries.
Serve the chocolate strawberries at room temperature for the best eating experience.
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