I know what you’re thinking, “Amber, you just did peanut butter last week, are you already so out of ideas that you can’t do something new?” Now on the one hand you would be right, but on the other hand, I love, love, love (did I mention LOVE???) peanut butter, so you’re just going to have to deal with another week dedicated to its delicious goodness. I know you’re crying on the inside (and possibly the outside if no one’s around to see you 😉 ), but be strong, you’ll thank me later I promise.
I have also been thinking about how much I love strawberries….when they’re in season. It’s not that I don’t like them when they’re out of season, but honestly, comparing a fresh picked from the field, in season Ontario strawberry, with it’s jewel-like redness filled to the brim with the sweet nectar of the gods (my strawberry love might possibly rival that of my peanut butter love 🙂 ), is like saying a kitten is the same thing as a saber-toothed tiger. It’s nonsense.
I was thinking though that one huge potential benefit to those monstrosities that they call out of season strawberries is their sheer size, which allows you to hollow them out and fill them with whatever your little heart desires (which was triple berry cheesecake in my case). On that note I bring you the high-class, grown-up PB & J! (You’re welcome) The best part about this recipe is how versatile and easily adaptable it is. You can go as fancy or as simple as you like. You could just do the classic “dip strawberries in chocolate”. It’s simple for sure, but there’s a reason everyone always seems to get excited about strawberries and chocolate. It’s delicious! (and extraordinarily easy to do). If you don’t have a lot of time, but want to do a slight twist on the original, you could just use peanut butter chips instead of chocolate. Although if you’re like me, you’d basically have to create your own peanut butter chips because I’ve never been able to find a vegan version of them (*le sigh* 🙁 ). If anyone knows of where I could find such a product (that doesn’t cost $5 for the product, and $40 for the shipping), feel free to enlighten me with your life changing find, you would make my day! (this goes double for butterscotch chips).
The version I’m bringing you here today though goes all out. The strawberries are dipped in straight up peanut butter, then stuck in the freezer for a bit, then dipped in chocolate and rolled in chopped peanuts. Then (because that is just not going far enough for me), I hollowed out the center of each strawberry and filled it with a triple berry cheesecake and sprinkled more peanuts on top. The “cheesecake” is also a part that you could easily customize to your own taste. You could put in some cocoa to make it a chocolate cheesecake, or, if you’re really feelin’ the peanut vibe, make it a peanut butter cheesecake filling! (overkill? Maybe, but you know you want to do it anyway 😉 )
I feel like I’m saying this every week, so I’m probably going to start to look a bit like an ego-maniac, but these ended up tasting so so good. I’m not sure if anyone else remembers these, but they remind me a lot of those strawberry shortcake popsicles I had as a kid…except these are way better for you, and deliciously bite-sized.
Yield: 15 strawberries (obviously easy to make more or less)
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup chocolate chips
1 teaspoon coconut oil (optional)
1/4 cup chopped peanuts
1/4 cup Tofutti cream cheese
1 tablespoon jam of your choice (I used triple berry)
2-3 tablespoons of icing sugar
1. If you’d like the strawberries to be able to stand up on their own (which I did, and I highly recommend this because it’ll make them look a little prettier, but feel free to be lazy here as well), cut a tiny bit off the bottom of each strawberry. Next, using a spoon or a small knife, carefully hollow out the centre of each strawberry being carefully not to go too deep, you don’t want to accidentally cut through the bottom.
2. Line a baking sheet with wax paper or parchment paper.
3. To make the dipping stage easier, be sure to make the strawberries as dry as possible. I gently dabbed mine with paper towel. Basically you just want the peanut butter to be able to adhere to the strawberries properly (science lesson – oil and water don’t mix). Take your peanut butter and place it in a small bowl. If it’s coming out of the fridge, or it’s very thick, you may want to microwave it briefly so it’s a bit meltier (that is the technical term 😉 ). Dip the bottom half of each strawberry in the peanut butter and place on the baking sheet bottom side up (i.e. so the peanut butter side isn’t touching the baking sheet).
4. Place baking sheet in the freezer for 20-30 minutes or until peanut butter is fairly solid (if you can touch it with your finger and huge gobs of peanut butter don’t come off on your hand, then they’re ready).
5. Place the chocolate chips and coconut oil in a small bowl and microwave for 30 seconds. Stir until chocolate is completely melted.
6. Remove strawberries from the freezer and dip the bottom half (i.e. the peanut butter covered half) in the melted chocolate and place back on the baking sheet chocolate peanut butter side up and sprinkle with crushed/chopped peanuts.
7. Place in the freezer while you make make the cheesecake.
8. Using an electric mixer, in a small bowl, combine cream cheese, jam and icing sugar. Mix until everything is fully incorporated. You don’t want this to be too runny, so add a bit more icing sugar if necessary. You can also stick it in the fridge for 10-15 minutes if you don’t want to add too much sugar.
9. Remove strawberries from the freezer and flip them over so the hollowed-out side is accessible.
10. Fill a piping bag (or a sandwich bag with the corner cut off) with the cheesecake mixture and pipe into the hollowed-out center of each strawberry. Top with more crushed nuts and stick back in the freezer for 10-15 minutes. Keep stored in the fridge.
Chocolate Cheesecake – replace 1 tablespoon of icing sugar with cocoa powder (optional whether or not to still include the jam)
Peanut Butter Cheesecake – Replace the jam with peanut butter.