Strawberry cheesecake tiramisu

This dessert is an oldie but a goodie for me. Tiramisu is an Italian classic, typically made with whipped mascarpone cheese and coffee-amaretto soaked ladyfingers, topped with cocoa powder. The coffee and alcohol are there to give you a little “pick me up”, but I wanted to have that same effect with just strawberries. For this rendition, there have been a couple changes, but I have basically stuck to the same or very similar methods of making my strawberry cheesecake tiramisu since my junior year in college, when I came across the beauty that is strawberry leaf tea.

Strawberry leaf tea is made from drying out the leaves from strawberries in the oven, which removes their toxins, making them edible, then brewing them into tea with lukewarm water. I use the strawberry leaf tea as my soaking liquid for the tiramisu, in place of coffee, because coffee and berries typically don’t mix well, while a tea made from the same fruit, it goes hand in hand. The bitterness of the tea works well in place of coffee, and has the added benefits of helping cleanse your skin, combat arthritis, and help with your digestion.

For the other layers, we have a ginger-bee pollen cake, a strawberry cheesecake mousse, and honey-glazed strawberries, cut in disks and quarters, just to show off the different shapes and forms of the fruit. This dessert is one of my favorites during the spring and summer, and it’s a wonderful excuse for when you want to be a fat-ass but still eat something that helps with your skin and digestion. Or at least that’s what I tell myself as I eat something like this almost every other day.

Bee pollen-ginger cake:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup granulated sugar
1 stick unsalted butter; melted
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon ginger powder
1 1/2 teaspoons bee pollen
a pinch of salt

In a bowl, cream the sugar, bee pollen, ginger, salt, and butter. Sift the flour together with the baking powder. Mix the vinegar into the buttermilk. Slowly alternate between adding the flour and buttermilk into the whipped butter mixture. Once everything is fully incorporated, pour and spread onto a shallow parchment-lined baking tray and bake at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes.

Strawberry leaf tea:
1 cup of strawberry leaves
1 cup water

Spread out strawberry leaves onto a lined sheet tray and bake at 350 degrees for 5 minutes. Combine with water and simmer for 2 minutes. Strain out the leaves and reserve the tea.

Strawberry cheesecake mousse:
8 oz cream cheese
Strawberry coulis*
1 teaspoon gelatin + 1 tablespoon cold water

Bloom the gelatin with water. Melt down the bloomed gelatin into the strawberry coulis over medium-low heat. Whip the coulis into the cream cheese until the mixture is completely smooth.

Strawberry coulis:
1 cup fresh strawberries, diced
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup water
a pinch of salt

Combine ingredients in a pot. Bring to a simmer. Continue to cook until the berries are reduced to a mushy texture and the liquid is predominantly red and thickened considerably. Strain.

Honey-glazed strawberries:
1/2 cup fresh strawberries
2 tablespoons cold water
3 tablespoons honey
a pinch of salt

Combine the water, honey, and salt. With 2/3rds of the berries, slice them into disks. Slice the remaining 1/3rd into quarters. Glaze in the honey mixture.

Cut out two cakes with a 6-inch ring mold. Line the ring mold with parchment paper, making sure that the parchment sticks at least 6 inches above the top of the ring mold. Use a paperclip if necessary to keep the parchment together. Press the first cake into the bottom, and pour on 1/4 cup of the tea. Pour on half the cheesecake mixture. Press on the remaining cake. Repeat again with the tea and cheesecake. Allow the cake to set for 3 hours in the refrigerator. Once set, remove the ring mold and parchment. Garnish the edges with the disks of strawberry and the top with the quarters.

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