19 July 2011

luscious lemon cheesecake

I'm a little excited. :)
I made up my own cheesecake recipe, and it worked.
The first time.

Well, ok, I used quantity suggestions from two different recipes, but neither one of them was lemon.

This cheesecake was good. Even my daughter, Miss “I Don't Like Cheesecake,” loved it.

Raspberries are at the peak of their season here in the northwest, 
and are the perfect accompaniment to this citrusy cheesecake.  

Lemon Cheesecake

2 packages graham crackers
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
Four 8oz packages cream cheese, at room temperature (I prefer full-fat)
1 cup sugar
Zest of two lemons*
Juice of two lemons (but don't squeeze them to death)
Pinch of salt
2 Tablespoons flour**
4 Tablespoons sour cream
4 large eggs

You will need a 13x9 baking dish and a larger baking dish or roasting pan that can hold the 13x9.***

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Melt butter; set aside to cool.
  • Line a 13x9 baking dish with parchment paper, leaving some parchment hanging over the sides. (I held mine in place with clothespins while I filled the pan.)
  • Pulse graham crackers in food processor until they are fine, even crumbs. (You can do this by hand by placing the graham crackers in a ziploc bag and beating them with a rolling pin or similar tool, but it takes longer and the crumbs will be more coarse and uneven.)
  • With the food processor running, drizzle melted butter through the feed tube (the hole in the lid that usually has a plunger) and continue to process until thoroughly mixed.
  • You can do this in batches if you have a small food processor, like me. Just make sure you split the butter accordingly—if you process half the graham crackers, add half the butter. Then repeat. You can also do this by hand in a mixing bowl if you prefer.
  • Press the buttered graham crumbs into the bottom of a 13x9 baking dish lined with parchment paper. (Don't forget this step, or you'll have a heck of a time getting the cheesecake out intact.)
  • In a mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, flour and sour cream. Mix slowly to avoid incorporating too much air. (You want the cheesecake filling to be dense.)
  • Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition.
  • Pour the cream cheese mixture on top of the graham cracker crust evenly, spreading if needed.
  • Place the larger baking dish/roasting pan on a rack in the center of your oven.
  • Place a clean dishtowel in the center of the larger dish, to keep the 13x9 from sliding and/or scratching.
  • Place the cheesecake dish on top of the towel.
  • Pour cool water into the larger baking dish/roasting pan until it comes halfway up the side of the cheesecake dish. (This helps the cheesecake to bake evenly.)
  • Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until the center of the cheesecake just barely jiggles. Start checking at 35 minutes.
  • When the cheesecake meets the “barely jiggles” requirement, turn off the oven and open the door slightly, but leave the cheesecake in the oven.
  • After 30 minutes, remove the cheesecake, set on a wire rack and allow to cool completely.
  • Once cool, refrigerate overnight. If that isn't possible, refrigerate at least a few hours.
  • To serve, pull entire chilled cheesecake out of the dish using the parchment paper and slice into squares/rectangles/diamonds of desired size.
  • Top with fresh berries or other desired garnish.
*The lemons I used were fairly large, about the size of my “average woman” sized fist.
**The flour is just a thickener. If you'd like a gluten-free cheesecake, or just want to leave out the flour, please do so. You may want to use a little less lemon juice (a tablespoon or two). For a gluten-free crust, try finely chopped nuts with butter and sugar!
***I made this cheesecake in bars. If you'd like the traditional round cheesecake in a springform pan, these quantities should work for a 10" round springform pan. I have not tested this. Regardless of shape, you should make sure your cheesecake filling does not come more than 3/4 of the way up the sides of the pan.