Although skyr is sold as Icelandic yogurt alongside the global representation of yogurt varieties in the dairy case, Icelanders consider it a cheese. When you taste it, you can understand why.
Skyr is so gloriously thick, it’s nearly spreadable and has a subtle, fresh-cheese taste in the way that cream cheese or ricotta cheese do but with a lovely yogurt-like tang from the active cultures it contains.
Traditionally made with skim or low-fat milk, skyr is healthful, too, making it a natural fit as the foundation of a fabulous, lightened-up cheesecake.
Here, I combine it with regular cream cheese to create a cheesecake that strikes just the right balance of richly creamy, yet light and fresh-tasting.
I use sugar sparingly, adding just enough so the cake registers as a true dessert while maintaining a gentle yogurt-y tang. And I make it crustless, which not only enhances its cloudlike appeal, but also makes the cake super-easy to whip up – just beat the ingredients in a single bowl, pour the mixture into a springform pan and bake.
The most difficult part of the process is waiting for the cake to chill for a couple of hours before unmolding it and digging into the decadence.
When that time comes, each mouthful proves worth the anticipation – lusciously creamy and fresh, with a delicate hint of vanilla and lemon zest.
The cheesecake is a pleasure on its own, but I can’t resist topping it with a heap of fresh sliced strawberries tossed with a touch of lemon juice and a sprinkle of sugar to soften the berries and draw out their juices. Totally manageable to make on a weeknight, it’s a stunning treat that’s also special enough for a holiday table.
Skyr Cheesecake With Strawberries
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
⅔ cup plus 1 teaspoon granulated sugar, divided
2 cups (16 ounces) plain low-fat skyr (Icelandic yogurt), at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 pound fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
½ teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees. Wrap the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with foil and place it on a large, rimmed baking sheet.
In a large bowl, using a handheld electric mixer (or in a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment), beat the cream cheese on medium speed until very smooth, about 1 minute. Stop the mixer, add ⅔ cup of the sugar and beat, starting on medium-low speed and increasing to medium-high until incorporated.
Stop the mixer and scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl, then add the skyr, vanilla and lemon zest and beat on medium until combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl between additions, and beat until well combined.
Pour the mixture into the pan and bake for 15 minutes, then, keeping the cake in the oven, reduce the oven temperature to 250 degrees and bake for 55 minutes to 1 hour 5 minutes, or until the cake is just set but still jiggles a little in the middle. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let it cool for 1 hour. Then, keeping the cake in the pan, cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 3 days.
When ready to serve, in a medium bowl, toss the strawberries with the remaining 1 teaspoon of sugar and the lemon juice. Run a butter knife around the edge of the pan before unmolding. Serve each slice of cheesecake topped with a few spoonfuls of the strawberries.
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