I have a major fight to pick with someone. I’m not sure who that someone should be, but I do know the subject. This crazy hot weather. Most people are delighted when the cold greyness of winter departs and the blossoms of spring arrive, but I am not one of those people. At least not since I have been living the NE. One day it’s cold and rainy and the next it’s 90° and suddenly I’m doomed to live in a sauna for 5 months. I do not like the heat. I do not like the humidity. I especially do not like them together.
I find people having a hard time understanding my disdain, but maybe it would help to give a bit of perspective. I lived in Wyoming for approximately 22 years. As I am writing this post, it is 29°in Wyoming. Yesterday, it snowed and the high was 36°. Yes, it gets quite warm in the middle of summer but at night it becomes cool and breezy, giving a much needed break from the heat. So I’m not exactly accustomed to dealing with hot humid weather for many many months. It’s just not in my genes.
In light of the warm weather I had to forego my usual chocolate dessert at Easter and make something bright and fresh. I came up with a lemon cheesecake topped with lemon curd. Let me tell you, this lemon curd is TO DIE FOR. It was my first time making it and it was surprisingly easy and quick. The cheesecake itself is a great consistency, not too heavy and the lemon really is the star. It’s adapted from The New Best Recipe.
8 graham crackers, crushed
3 tablespoons sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and kept warm
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 tablespoon grated zest and 1/4 cup juice from 1-2 lemons
3 8-oz. packages reduced fat cream cheese, at room temperature
4 eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup juice (from about 2 lemons)
2 eggs plus 1 egg yolk
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cold butter, cut into cubes
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt
Combine the graham cracker crumbs and sugar until well mixed. Add the butter and stir well. Transfer the crumb mixture to a 9-inch springform pan and press evenly into the bottom. Bake until golden brown, about 12 minutes. When cool, wrap the pan with several pieces of foil. Make sure the foil goes up the sides of the pan and creates a seal. You don’t want to allow the water from the water bath to touch the bottom of the pan. Set the springform pan in a roasting pan.
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 for about 2 minutes. Add the sugar mixture and beat on medium for 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. Add the lemon juice, vanilla and salt and mix to combine. Add in the cream and mix until just incorporated. 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 and the sides start to puff, about 55 to 60 minutes. Turn off the oven and open the oven door slightly. Allow the cheesecake to cool in the oven for about an hour. Take the cheesecake out of the water bath and foil 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.
While the cheesecake is baking, heat the lemon juice in a small 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, 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 bowl. Cover the surface of the curd directly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed.
When the cheesecake is cool, top it with the lemon curd. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. To remove the cheesecake from the pan, place over medium stove flame to loosen the crust. This should only take a few seconds if you have a gas stove, a little longer for electric. You just want the butter in the crust to melt slightly so it’s easier to transfer. Release the spring on the pan and slide a large spatula in between the crust and the bottom of the pan. Transfer to serving plate.