You know you’ve found something really good when family and friends request it over and over again. For their birthdays, anniversaries and other special occasions. And so it is with this recipe. It is simply scrumptious! And, believe it or not, light tasting. (Note that I said light tasting. Three bricks of cream cheese hardly qualifies as a light dessert:)
This recipe comes from one of my favorite cooking magazines, Cook’s Illustrated. Unfortunately you have to have a membership to view this particular recipe on the site. But it is a fabulous magazine and every recipe in it is like a mini cooking lesson.
Let me start off by saying I took the easy way out with this recipe. I skip the Baine Marie (water bath) for the cheesecake because it’s a lot of extra work and I can’t image the cheesecake tasting any more amazing than it does. Granted, a Baine Marie does cut down on the risk of your cheesecake top cracking but, at least for me, I’m totally good with covering it with some fresh fruit or a dollop of carefully placed whipped cream. It also calls for a top layer of lemon curd which I also leave off because: 1)um…I’m a tad lazy, 2) I think it would take away from the lightness of this cake, and 3) it wouldn’t freeze as well if there were leftovers. But you can also make homemade lemon curd or…much easier, purchase it and top the cheesecake off with it. I’ve found lemon curd in the “International Aisle” of most supermarkets in the “British” section.
I made up my own crust using Nilla Wafers by Nabisco, I love the vanilla-buttery taste of them.
Finally – the technique of cooking the cheesecake until it reaches an internal temperature of 150F and then turning the oven off and leaving it in the oven for an hour with the door propped open a bit makes the creamiest, most luscious cheesecake I’ve ever tasted. All you need is an inexpensive instant read food thermometer from the cooking aisle of your grocery store.
Lemon Cheesecake (adapted from Cooks Illustrated, May 2003)
Serves 12 – 16
- 1 1/2 cups crushed Nilla wafers (about 42 wafer cookies)
- 5 Tbsp. of butter, melted
- 2 Tbsp. of sugar
- Adjust the oven rack to the lower-middle position and preheat oven to 325 F.
- In food processor, process cookies to fine, even crumbs, about 30 to 40 seconds. Add warm, melted butter in a steady stream while pulsing, then add sugar and pulse until mixture is evenly moistened.
- Spray a springform pan with non-stick cooking spray (preferably one formulated for baking that includes flour). Then press crust mixture into pan bottom and up the sides about 1/2″.
- Bake until fragrant and golden brown, about 13 to 16 minutes.
- Cool until room temperature, about 30 minutes.
- 1 1/4 cups sugar, divided
- 1 Tbsp. grated lemon zest
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1 1/2 lbs. (3 bricks) cream cheese, room temperature
- 4 large eggs, room temperature
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/2 cup heave cream
- While crust is cooling, process 1/4 cup of sugar and lemon zest in food processor until sugar is yellow and zest is broken down, about 15 seconds, scraping down bowl if necessary.
- In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (you can also use electric beaters), beat cream cheese on low to break up about 10 seconds. Then add sugar-zest mixture as well as the remaining sugar. Increase speed to medium and continue to beat until mixture is creamy and smooth, about 3 minutes, scraping down bowl sides with rubber spatula as needed.
- Reduce speed to medium-low and add eggs 2 at a time; beat until incorporated, about 30 seconds, scraping sides and bottom of bowl well after each addition.
- Add lemon juice, vanilla, and salt and mix until just incorporated, about 5 seconds. Add heavy cream and mix until just incorporated about 5 seconds longer.
- Give batter final scrape, stir with rubber spatula, and pour into prepared springform pan.
- Bake until center jiggles slightly, sides just start to puff, and surface is no longer shiny and an instant read thermometer inserted in center of cake registers 150 degrees, about 50 to 55 minutes. Turn off oven and prop open oven door with potholder or wooden spoon handle; allow cake to cool in opened oven for 1 hour.
- Transfer springpan to wire rack; run small paring knife around inside of pan to loosen sides of cake and cool cake to room temperature. Refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight.
- Serve and enjoy!
Diva Entertains has a large selection of Birthday Favors to help make your celebration memorable.