Preheat the oven to 300F/150C. Wrap the bottom of a 9-inch (23-cm) springform pan with 2 layers of foil in preparation for the water bath. Place the graham crackers into a food processor and pulse for a minute, until fine crumbs form. Add the melted butter and pulse again until the cookies are well coated. Alternatively, place the graham crackers into a large bag and use a rolling pin to crush the cookies, then add the butter and mix until well coated.
Press the cookie crumbs into the bottom of the springform pan, forming a firm and even crust; set aside.
Place the softened cream cheese into a mixer bowl and beat for 8 to 10 minutes on medium-high speed until the cream cheese is extra creamy and smooth. Important: scrap down the sides of the mixing bowl often to ensure all the cream cheese is well blended.
Next, add the sugar, sour cream, eggs, vanilla and cornstarch. Mix again on medium-high speed for 3 to 4 minutes, scraping down the sides of the mixing bowl halfway through, until the cheesecake batter is uniform and smooth.
Fold in the diced strawberries and strawberry preserves by hand using a spatula. Transfer the cheesecake batter into the springform pan. Place the cheesecake into a larger baking pan or baking sheet and fill the pan with water. You can do this with the pan in the oven.
Bake the cheesecake at 300F/150C for 2 hours to 2 hours and 20 minutes, or until the edges are set and the center is still slightly wobbly. Turn the oven off and prop the oven door open with a wooden spoon and allow the cheesecake to cool slowly in the oven for a few hours. Once it’s cooled, transfer it into the refrigerator to set overnight, or for at least 6 to 8 hours.
When ready to enjoy the cheesecake, remove the springform pan and transfer the cake onto a cake stand. Watch my video recipe to see how to transfer the cheesecake!
For the whipped cream: combine the chilled heavy cream with the vanilla extract and confectioner’s sugar in a large mixing bowl. Whisk the cream on high speed for 3 to 4 minutes, until stiff peaks form. Transfer the whipped cream into a pastry bag tipped with a star tip; I used Ateco tip #847.
Pipe dollops of whipped cream onto the cheesecake and garnish with regular or chocolate covered strawberries. Make the chocolate strawberries on the day you plan to enjoy the cheesecake. They do not stand for long and will start to release juices.
For Chocolate Strawberries:
Visit my chocolate strawberry decorating tutorial here: https://tatyanaseverydayfood.com/chocolate-strawberries/