Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Lemon Cheesecake

This cheesecake is so creamy and lush that I've made it twice in the past two weeks!  The first time I struggled with the crust so I changed things up a bit and still had a bit of trouble.  Next time I think I will not prebake the crust and see if that makes a difference. The problem I had with the first crust was that it got soggy even wrapped in the tinfoil the original instructions called for.  The second time I followed a tip I found and placed the cheesecake inside one of those plastic oven bags used to cook turkey in.  The crust stayed dry but it was overcooked. the butter inside the crust had just melted so much that it was just hard and flat. 
I found a yummy sounding recipe here at Taste and Tell's blog site.  You can find her exact recipe if you click on the link, otherwise, I'll be posting the recipe with my changes.

Lemon Cheesecake
adapted from The New Best Recipe

For the Crust:
1 package of graham crackers
3 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and kept warm
For the Filling:
1 1/4 cups (8 3/4 oz.) sugar
1 tablespoon grated zest and 1/4 cup juice from 1-2 lemons
1 1/2 pounds (3 8-oz. packages) cream cheese, cut into 1 inch chunks, at room temperature
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla paste (or use vanilla extract)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup heavy cream
For the Lemon Curd:
1/3 cup juice (from about 2 lemons)
2 large eggs plus 1 large egg yolk
1/2 cup (3 1/2 oz.) sugar
2 tablespoons cold butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt

To make the crust:
 Place an oven rack to the lower-middle position and preheat the oven to 325F. In a food processor, or blender, process the graham crackers until you have fine crumbs. You should have about 1 cup.  Place in a bowl and mix in the sugar. Add the melted butter and mix until blended through. Transfer the crumb mixture to a 9-inch springform pan and press evenly into the bottom.  Let set in refrigerator for about 20 minutes. Remove from fridge and place the pan into the plastic roasting bag.  I did not close the bag, I just had the pan in the bag with the top remaining fully open. You just want the bag to prevent water from getting to the crust. Because of the steam, you will still get a tiny amount of water but it doesn't affect the crust. Set the pan in a roasting pan.
To make the Filling
Process 1/4 cup of the sugar and the lemon zest in a food processor until the zest is broken down and the sugar turns yellow. Transfer to a small bowl and mix in the rest of the sugar.
In a bowl of a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese to break it up and soften it slightly, about 5 seconds. With the machine is running, add the sugar mixture in a slow stream; increase the speed to medium and beat until combined, creamy and smooth - about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Reduce the speed to medium low and add the eggs, 2 at a time. Beat until incorporated, about 30 seconds. Scrape the bowl before each addition. Add the lemon juice, vanilla and salt and mix to combine. Add the cream and mix until incorporated, about another 5 seconds. Give the bowl a final scrape and pour the mixture into the prepared springform pan. Fill the roasting pan with enough water to make it about halfway up the sides of the pan. Bake until the center jiggles slightly, the sides start to puff, and the surface is no longer shiny, about 55 to 60 minutes. The center should read about 150 degrees F. Turn off the oven and prop the door of the oven open with a potholder or wooden spoon. Allow the cake to cool in the water bath in the oven for about an hour. Transfer the springform pan to a wire rack and run a small paring knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the cake. Let it sit to room temperature for 2 hours. For best tasting results, refrigerate for about 24 hours.

To make the curd
While the cheesecake is baking, heat the lemon juice in a small non-reactive pan on medium heat until hot, but not boiling. Whisk the eggs in a small bowl, then gradually whisk in the sugar. Whisking constantly, slowly pour the hot lemon juice into the egg/sugar mixture, then return the mixture to the saucepan and continue to heat over medium heat, stirring constantly until the mixture reaches 170 F and is thick enough to cling to the spoon, about 3 minutes. Immediately remove the pan from the heat and add in the cold butter and mix until incorporated. Stir in the cream, vanilla and salt, then pour through a strainer into a small nonreactive bowl. Cover the surface of the curd directly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed.
To Serve: 
Top with the lemon curd mixture before slicing in to pieces.  This recipe will serve 8-12 people dep
ending on how big of slices you want. 

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