Monday, September 30, 2013

Lemon Cheesecake with Strawberry Sauce

K loves cheesecake. I am pretty sure he loves it so much that I can safely say it is his favorite dessert. Although, he really is an equal opportunity dessert lover, so that is a pretty big claim to make.  The only other thing I know he loves as much as cheesecake, is lemon flavored desserts.  So this year when I asked him what kind of cake he wanted for his birthday dinner and he said "Cheesecake, but you have to pick the flavor,"  I knew right away that lemon was the way to go.  I browsed the internet for a few days to find a recipe that I thought would work out the best.  Finally I settled on this recipe and I am very glad that I did.  I have made him a couple of different cheesecakes over the years, like a white chocolate raspberry cheesecake pie for this past Valentine's Day, but I think this one was the most successful cheesecake so far.  No cracks! YAY! Plus it had the perfect creamy smooth cheesecake texture that I was hoping to achieve.  Since cheesecake can be a little overwhelming the first couple times that you make it (at least I thought it was) I will do a step by step on this recipe. 

First make the crust for the cheesecake by crushing graham crackers in a large plastic bag with a mallet or rolling pin.  You can also use a food processor but that is a pain to clean out, so I just go with the bag method even though it takes a minute or two longer.  Combine the graham cracker crumbs with some sugar, chopped pecans, and butter.  The mixture should resemble wet sand.  Press the crumb mixture into a 9" springform pan.  This is a special pan that has a removable bottom which is especially important when making cheesecake.  Bake the crust for 10 minutes in your preheated oven and let cool while you make the filing.

 Zest a couple of lemons (I used meyer lemons, which are sort of a cross between a tangerine and a lemon) and set this aside for a minute while you mix the cream cheese and sugar.

 In a large bowl mix your softened cream cheese with the sugar and beat for a couple of minutes until smooth and combined.  Add the lemon zest, cornstarch, vanilla, and heavy cream and beat until combined.

 Add the eggs and egg yolks one at a time, mixing well between each addition.  Stop the mixer and give the sides of the bowl a good scrape before adding the lemon juice.

 Pour in the lemon juice and mix very well.  Wrap the outside of your springform pan in aluminum foil, making sure there is no seem on the bottom of the pan.  Pour all of the batter on top of the cooled graham cracker crust in the springform pan.  Give the pan a few little shakes to level the batter out.

Place the springform pan into a large roasting pan or some other type of pan large enough to hold the cheesecake pan.  Pour boiling water into the roasting pan about half way up the sides of the cheesecake and bake in the oven for 60 to 70 minutes.  The water bath will help the cheesecake bake evenly.  I have skipped this step every other time I have made cheesecake.  Don't be like me!  The water bath is absolutely necessary to have that perfect smooth texture. 

 The cheesecake will be done when the outside edges look firm and the middle is set but still a little jiggly.  Let cool for about an hour and then place in the fridge for at least four hours to firm up.  When you are ready to serve, run a butter knife around the outside of the cake and slowly pull the lever on the springform pan to release. 

I made a simple strawberry sauce to top the cake, which was a really nice, sweet compliment to the tangy lemon cheesecake. 

K loved his birthday dessert.  As I am typing this blog, he asked me what I was blogging about today, and I said lemon cheesecake.  His response was "mmmm!"  I am sure I will be getting requests for this one again.

 The graham cracker crust was buttery, crunchy, and just a hint of nutty with the addition of pecans.  The cheesecake was velvety and rich; delicious topped with sweet strawberry sauce and fresh whipped cream. 

Lemon Cheesecake with Strawberry Sauce
Inspired by Jo Cooks

Graham Cracker Crust

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup chopped pecans (or walnuts)
2 tbsp white sugar
6 tbsp melted butter

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and mix well.  Press into the bottom and up the sides of a springform pan.  Bake for about 10 minutes until lightly golden and let cool.

Lemon Cheesecake

32 oz (2 lbs) cream cheese softened
1 1/3 cups white sugar
2 tbsp lemon zest
2 tsp vanilla
3 tbsp cornstarch
1/3 cup heavy cream
3 eggs
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup lemon juice

Decrease oven temperature to 325°F.  Combine cream cheese  and sugar and mix well until no lumps remain.  Zest about 2 lemons and add to the cream cheese mixture.  Mix in vanilla, cornstarch, and heavy cream.  Beat in eggs one at a time, mixing completely between each egg.  Scrape the sides of the bowl and beat in the lemon juice.  Pour batter into the tin foil wrapped springform pan and bake in a water bath for 60-70 minutes until the outside of the cake is firm and the center is set but still slightly jiggly.  Cool for  one hour and then refrigerate for at least four hours before removing from  the pan and serving. 

Strawberry Sauce

16 oz strawberries (fresh or thawed frozen berries)
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
Juice from 1/2 of a lemon

In a medium saucepan, cook all ingredients for about 10 minutes over medium heat until bubbling and starting to get thick. Cool completely before serving.


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