Perfect Go-to Lemon Cheesecake
If you'd be so willing, I'd like to take a walk down memory lane for a minute, because this lemon cheesecake evokes some fond childhood memories of mine.
January 7th, 2009, 5:00 p.m. - It's been a long day at school. I'm tired. I'm hungry. I've just been given 6 hours of math homework. I trudge into my house. I notice something on the kitchen table. It's a cheesecake. My mom's delicious, go-to lemon cheesecake. My day just got a whole lot better. And although I have the (self-diagnosed) disease of anti-procastination (it's also self-named/created), today, math homework can wait. I'm having a hefty slice of lemon cheesecake first. And savoring every bite. Even if it takes me a full 38 seconds to finish my plate. Like I said, math homework will wait. Yes, even 38 seconds.
The above scenario has repeated itself many times throughout my childhood, albeit with varying amounts of exhaustion, hunger, and hours of math homework each time. But the constant variable was always this lemon cheesecake making whatever bad things happened that day in school disappear to the back of my mind as soon as I spied it sitting invitingly on the kitchen table.
And now, here I am in May of 2015, making the cheesecake by myself, for myself (well, for the blog, but of course I get to eat it too).
Do you see that photo of the coffee? That was me, waiting (im)patiently for the cheesecake to come out of the oven so I could photograph it and then have a slice. It was pretty amusing, so I had to take a picture of the scene for you. I had my coffee, plate, and little fork all ready to pounce on the cheesecake as soon as it was done its modeling for my camera.
I was so impatient, actually, that I didn't even give the cheesecake a chance to cool properly. Chill it in the fridge for a couple hours? Nah, I quite simply could NOT and did NOT do that. That's why you might have noticed that the cheesecake in the photos looks a little grainy and watery (ick). I didn't let it chill and harden completely. Silly me. It would have looked so much more attractive if I had just a little patience. But I didn't/don't (symptom of anti-procastination). Oh well.
I debated whether I should title this recipe "plain" cheesecake or "lemon" cheesecake. Because, you see, although this cheesecake recipe does have lemon juice and lemon zest in it, the lemon flavor is quite subtle and really just works to enhances the cheesecake overall rather than impart a bold new flavor. But you do taste the lemon if you know it's there. So for this reason, I settled on "lemon" cheesecake for the title. (I have to make tough decisions like this one on a daily basis. Sigh.)
When my mom makes this cheesecake, she keeps it simple and doesn't add any garnishes. Here, however, I added raspberries and blueberries to the cheesecake to make it look more fetching for the photos (and taste more fetching to my palette). You can add any garnishes you'd like to this recipe; it's a great base for any topping you so desire. Go crazy, k?
If you celebrate the Shavuot holiday (coming up at the end of next week), where an over-consumption of all dairy products, particularly vast quantities of cheesecake, is a requirement, consider making this cheesecake a part of your menu. It would be a wise decision that would be very much appreciated by your friends and family.
This amazing, easy lemon cheesecake is the perfect balance of creamy and light, sweet and tart, delicious and delicious. Because what's better than delicious? Nothing, that's what.
Perfect go-to lemon cheesecake
Adapted from the "Spice and Spirit" cookbook
Yield: One 9" pie
Store-bought graham cracker crust or 9 graham crackers and 1/3 cup butter
8 oz. cream cheese
3/4 cup sugar
Juice and zest of 1/2 a lemon
8 ounces farmer cheese or cottage cheese
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Optional: desired garnishes
Preheat oven to 350 F.
If making your own crust, crush the graham crackers in a food processor. Add in the butter and pulse to combine. Press crust firmly into the bottom and sides of a 9" pie pan.
Filling: Beat all the ingredients together until smooth. Pour into crust.
*Tip: To prevent top of cheesecake from cracking, bake it in a water bath: place pie onto a baking sheet that has sides. Place sheet into oven and then pour water onto sheet, filling it halfway up.
Bake cheesecake for 45 minutes.
Topping: Combine topping ingredients. Spread on top of the pie after it bakes for 45 minutes. Bake for another 15 minutes.
Chill cheesecake in the fridge for a few hours before serving.
Top cheesecake with desired fruit, jam, caramel, chocolate spread, or any other of your favorite toppings.
On a completely unrelated note, it's always awkward when you: