Rich and luscious, cheesecake is always a welcome dessert. Our version has a few twists on the traditional; it's sweetened with white chocolate and swirled with generous dollops of strawberry purée. The result is an extra-special, super-creamy cheesecake bursting with fresh fruit flavor. The cheesecake needs to chill in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours before serving, so plan accordingly. It will keep, covered and refrigerated, for up to 5 days, so this is a great make-ahead dessert.
Combine the strawberries, sugar, lemon juice and salt in a small pan and set over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture comes to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the berries soften completely and the mixture thickens, 5 to 8 minutes.
Cool the berry mixture to room temperature, and then purée the mixture with a handheld stick blender. Stir in the Cointreau, if using. Set aside at room temperature — or cover and refrigerate if you’re preparing it in advance, then bring the mixture back to room temperature before proceeding.
Position a rack in the bottom third of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees F.
Combine the shortbread crumbs and the butter, mixing to blend. Press the mixture into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan. Bake until the crumbs turn golden brown, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let the crust cool completely.
Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees F.
Place the white chocolate in the top of a double boiler, or in a bowl set over barely simmering water (don’t let the bottom of the bowl touch the water). Melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally until smooth. Remove the bowl from the heat and let the chocolate cool.
Beat the cream cheese in a heavy-duty mixer until very smooth. Then beat in the sugar, flour, lemon juice and vanilla. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until each is fully incorporated before adding the next. Last, add the white chocolate and the heavy cream gradually at low speed, mixing until smooth.
Transfer half of the batter to the prepared crust. Using a tablespoon, dollop half of the strawberry mixture over the batter. Cover with the remaining batter. Dollop the top of the cake with the remaining strawberry purée. Then, using a knife, lightly swirl the mixture to create a decorative design.
Place the springform pan on a rimmed baking sheet and transfer the cheesecake to the oven. Bake until the edges puff and the center of the cake is almost set, 55 to 65 mintues. The cake will be dry to the touch, but still slightly jiggly in the center.
Transfer the cheesecake to a wire rack and let it cool to room temperature — then refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 8 hours or overnight. Once the cheesecake is fully cold, cover the pan and keep it in the refrigerator until serving time.