This weekend life handed me a big fat bag of lemons, and I couldn't be happier about it. My little house has its faults (like a tiny awful shower and an aspiring rock band in the duplex next door), but it also has a gem of a Meyer lemon tree that produces a ton of gorgeous yellow beauties.
All things considered, a glut of Meyer lemons is a pretty good problem to have. A while ago we picked this tree to death, and then didn't end up using the lemons for their intended purpose. Luckily they've held on in the refrigerator, and I'm determined to use them all before they become compost. On Easter Sunday I made Joy the Baker's lemon whoopie pies, and tonight's dinner was chicken picatta, but the crowning jewel in my lemon experiment has to be this cheesecake.
Do you like lemon bars? Do you like cheesecake? Do you like eating things that are delicious? Do you like yourself? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then you need to get out your springform pan and make this ASAP.
Fine Cooking magazine has an amazing cheesecake spread this month. With flavors like chocolate peanut butter cup, cannoli, and dulce de leche carmel, it was hard to even know where to begin. The best part is that each recipe is based off a basic cheesecake, with add-ins, flavors, and garnishes to elevate it into something spectacular. While I know I'll make my fair share of these, for obvious reasons, their Lemon Bar Cheesecake was a great place to start.
First we bake the crust. Buzz some Nilla wafers in the food processor, and combine the crumbs with sugar and butter. Press the crumbly crust into the springform pan, and bake the crust by itself for a few minutes, until it's golden brown.
Cheesecake filling is way easy. Beat cream cheese and ricotta until light and fluffy. The ricotta is a fantastic addition, adding a soft texture to a rich cake. Flour and a pinch of salt are added here as well.
Once everything is smooth, add in vanilla extract and lemon zest, followed by four eggs. There are some calories here, but they're worth it.
That's it! Pour your batter into the pre-baked crust and bake for about an hour.
And oooohhh the way your kitchen smells during that hour. When you pull it out of the oven, it'll be yellow and puffy and glorious. Now you have to do something really difficult. Cover the cheesecake and put it in the fridge for 8 whole hours. If it weren't for my work day, I really think I would have broken around the four hour mark.
8 hours later my beautiful natural light was gone, but my beautiful cheesecake was nearly ready for prime time. See those cracks? I don't sweat 'em, because this cheesecake gets topped with lemon curd. In a pinch you could buy pre-made lemon curd, but it's easy to make at home.
Spread the lemon curd all over the top of your cheesecake...
And dust generously with powdered sugar.
Between you and me, I sliced this bad boy an hour ago and John and I are already four slices in. I had grand plans of sharing this cheesecake with friends and coworkers, but now I'm not sure whether that's possible.
Lemon Bar Cheesecake
From Fine Cooking, April/May 2010
For the crust:
8 oz (2 cups) vanilla wafer crumbs
3 Tbs granulated sugar
7 Tbs unsalted butter, melted
For the filling:
3 8 oz packages cream cheese
1 cup ricotta cheese
2 Tbs all purpose flour
pinch table salt
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
2 Tbs finely grated lemon zest
1 Tb pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs, at room temperature
Position rack in the center of the oven and heat to 375F.
In a medium bowl, stir the cookie crumbs and sugar. Mix in the melted butter until the crumbs are evenly moist and clump together slightly. Transfer the mixture to a 9-inch springform pan and press evenly onto the bottom and about 2 inches up the sides of the pan (to press use your fingers or a flat-bottom measuring cup). Bake until the crust is fragrant and slightly darkened, 9 to 12 minutes. Let the pan cool on a rack. Lower the oven temperature to 300F.
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese, ricotta cheese, flour, and salt at medium speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl and the paddle frequently, until smooth and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Make sure the cheese has no lumps.
Add the sugar and continue beating until smooth.
Add the vanilla and lemon zest and beat until blended, about 30 seconds. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until just blended. Pour the filling into the cooled crust and smooth the top.
Bake at 300F until the center jiggles like Jell-O when nudged, 55 to 65 minutes. The cake will be slightly puffed around the edges, and the center will still look moist. Set on a rack and cool completely. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 8 hours and up to 3 days. The cake can be frozen for up to 1 month.
To serve, unclasp and remove the sides of the springform pan and run a long thin spatula under the bottom crust. Slide the cake onto a flat serving plate. Spread the lemon curd over the top of the cake, and dust with powdered sugar.