I promised myself to try and catch up on my backlog before baking something else – which should be sufficient motivation in itself, but I also learned about the marvels of Meyer lemons last week and the result was a total crowd pleaser that I’m excited to share.
And by crowd pleaser I mean it got the approval of my running coach’s 12 year-old daughter, which is saying something. I went over there for dinner a couple weeks back and brought a blondie pie (which I’ll post about some day) and asked for requests. My coach’s wife loves lemon and cheesecake, so this was a good opportunity to bust out 125 Best Cheesecake Recipes by George Geary.
My baking “career” really started with learning to make cheesecake, and this is one of my go-to books. A lot of cheesecake recipes/books make things seem over-complicated and intimidating (this one included at times) with talk of water baths and such voodoo nonsense, but the main thing to know about cheesecake is that it requires patience.
Unlike a lot of cakes, you can’t really just decide to make a cheesecake on the spur of the moment. Or, you can, if you happen to have a boat load of cream cheese on hand, but without advance planning it’ll likely end up cracked.
The key to a smooth surface on a cheesecake is bringing the ingredients to room temperature in advance, cooking on low temperature for a long time, and letting it cool slowly.
But what I really wanted to talk about in this post was Meyer lemons! They’re so interesting! They carry a much less tart, more mellow, and kind of floral flavor. Geary describes them as a cross between a lemon and an orange, and I suppose that’s the best way to explain them, especially since the rind is orange.
Speaking of – if you don’t have a microplane zester in your kitchen, get one! You cannot adequately zest a lemon (or grate ginger for that matter) without one. The crappy side of the cheese grater will only leave you cursing and struggling with clean up.
Overall, this is a lovely, mellow citrus cheesecake with a really nice texture.
Meyer Lemon Cheesecake (from 125 Best Cheesecake Recipes by George Geary)
(I actually used the Graham Crust from the Milk Bar cookbook, which I’ll post later, but any graham crust will do – I’m posting Geary’s recipe here)
- 1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
- 3 Tbs butter, melted
- 2 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, brought to room temperature
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 3 eggs, brought to room temperature
- 2 Tbs Meyer lemon zest**
- 2 Tbs Meyer lemon juice**
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 cup sour cream, brought to room temperature
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 Tbs Meyer lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
Preheat oven to 325 degrees
For the crust: combine crumbs and melted butter, then press into the bottom of a 9-inch springform or cheesecake pan.
Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and sugar on medium-high for 3 minutes, until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl to avoid clumps and beat a bit longer.
Add the eggs, one at a time, beating just until combined (30 seconds or so). Then mix in the zest, juice, and vanilla.
Pour the filling over the crust and bake in the preheated oven for 45-55 minutes – until the top has browned slightly and the center has a slight jiggle to it. (Undercooking a cheesecake is better than over-cooking one.) Cool on the counter for 10 minutes without turning the oven off. The cake will sink a bit – don’t worry about it.
While it’s cooling, make the topping by combining the sour cream, sugar, juice, and vanilla in a small bowl. After the 10 minutes is up, pour the topping over the top of the cake and spread evenly with a silicone spatula.
Bake for another five minutes, then turn off the oven and crack the oven door. Let it cool for 2 hours or so before putting it in the fridge. Refrigerate for 6 hours (or, better, overnight) before serving.
**If you can’t find Meyer lemons, Geary says you can sub equal parts regular ol’ lemon and regular orange.