No matter what the reason for your sudden strawberry cravings are this time of year; an ode to the catchy ‘Beatles’ classic, “Strawberry Fields Forever”; the aromatic Spring blooms have captured your senses;  or your mouth is just anxious for that sweet, juicy and slightly tart pop of flavor that only a fresh ’in season’ strawberry can provide.  One thing is for certain…it’s time to indulge in this delicious perfect berry once again!

May is National Strawberry Month! These bright, sweet and amazing little gems are full of the promise of summer.  In fact, they are the favorite fruit in over 94% of American households. The abundance of berry fields in the mid-Willamette valley was the reason for the annual Strawberry Festival in Lebanon, Oregon, home to The World’s Largest Strawberry Shortcake. Yum!  Plus, strawberries are packed with vital nutrients, such as Vitamin C, Potassium, Folate, Fiber and Antioxidants.  In addition to traditional nutrients, strawberries are also rich in phenolic compounds such as flavonoids and Ellagic acid, which are the said to be beneficial to your health due to their antioxidant, anticancer and anti-mutagenic properties. So, not only are these prefect little berries nutritious and delicious, but legend has it that if you share a double strawberry with someone you will fall in love with each other.   Sweet!

In tradition with National Strawberry Month, Umpqua Dairy is once again offering our limited edition Strawberry Cheesecake ice cream.  Our creamy cheesecake flavored ice cream is swirled with thick strawberry marble and is perfect to share with your favorite strawberry loving cohorts.

Because there are two distinct flavors in this ice cream, we can’t leave out the fun facts about cheesecake.  The first cheese cake was believed to be created in 776 B.C. for the athletes of the first Olympic Games. In 230 A.D. the first recorded recipe was written by Greek writer Athenaeus. It called for cheese to be pounded “till smooth and pasty; put cheese in a brazen sieve; add honey and spring wheat flour. Heat in one mass, cool, and serve.”  Cheesecake recipes, as most recipes do, have evolved over the course of history; from pounded cheese to cheese slices soaked in milk and mixed with eggs and sweet milk to the cheesecake we’ve come to know and love today. The most notable difference being the type of cheese used in cheesecake. Even though cream cheese dates back to the late 1700’s², the first commercially produced cream cheese wasn’t available until 1872 when William Lawrence, a New York dairyman, manufactured a product under the brand name Philadelphia Cream Cheese. Even then, most bakers and pastry chefs still used cottage cheese for their cheesecakes. In 1929, Arnold Reuben, a NY restaurateur developed the classic “New York Style Cheesecake”³. Over the years, different regions and cultures have presented their own version of cheesecake; some creamier, some lighter, some with sour cream; some with sauces, fruits or berries. Whatever your favorite style of cheesecake might be, one thing is for sure…its creamy indulgence is worth every bite.

This ‘pick’ of the season is only available for a limited time, so pluck some Umpqua Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream from your favorite grocers’ freezer, and share it with someone. It will be love at first bite.

 

¹http://urbanext.illinois.edu/strawberries/history.cfm

²http://forward.com/articles/139003/the-origins-of-cream-cheese/#ixzz2z45khZCt

³http://whatscookingamerica.net/History/Cakes/Cheesecake.htm

 

 

Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream Pie

Ingredients:

Directions:

Evenly coat a 9 inch pie pan with nonstick spray.

Pulse crackers in food processor until find crumbs form. Add butter and sugar, pulse until crumbs are moistened. Press firmly over bottom and up sides of pie pan. Freeze for 30 minutes.

Place Umpqua Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream in refrigerator to soften while crust freezes.

When crust is set and ice cream is softened, pack ice cream into crust with ice cream spade or large spoon; spread evenly. Top with 3/4 cup of sliced strawberries. Place back in freezer to set.

In large bowl, whip cream until stiff peaks are just about to form. Beat in vanilla and sugar until peaks form. Make sure not to over beat or cream will become lumpy and butter-like.

Drop spoonfuls of whipped cream onto berries; spread evenly. Garnish with remaining berries. Enjoy!

 

Strawberry Cheesecake Bon Bons

Ingredients:

Directions:

Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

Using small ice cream scoop, scoop ice cream and form into round balls. Place on parchment paper lined baking sheet. Work quickly!

Once all of the ice cream has been scooped, place a toothpick into each ice cream ball. Place pan in the freezer for at least and hour; over night is best.

Combine chocolate chips and coconut oil in a microwave safe bowl. On 50% power, microwave for :30 seconds. Stir, smoothing out any lumps. Microwave again for :10-15 seconds. Stir again, smoothing out any lumps. Be sure not to microwave too long as it will scorch the chocolate.

When chocolate chips and coconut oil are melted and blended, remove your ice cream scoops from the freezer.

Working quickly, hold one scoops by the toothpick over the bowl of chocolate and use a spoon to coat the ice cream ball with chocolate. Dip the bottom of the ball in chocolate and quickly place it back on the parchment paper. Pull the toothpick out and top it with a strawberry slice. Repeat until all scoops are coated with chocolate and topped with a strawberry slice.

Freeze for 30 minutes before enjoying. Once frozen, bon bons can be placed in a zip-top plastic bag and stored in freezer for up to 3 months… who are we kidding? They aren’t going to last that long!