A Valentine’s Eve Love Story
February 13, 2008
After my first experience with my new springform pan, you probably couldn’t have blamed me for hiding it in the far reaches of my cupboard. Or, heck, throwing it away, figuring that it was cursed. Instead of stashing or trashing the pan, I had the audacity to start looking for cheesecake recipes. I figured it was a much more apt use for a cheesecake pan. And this pan deserved redemption.
This is not merely a redemption story, though. It’s also a love story. You see, I’ve fallen head over heels for the star ingredient in this cheesecake. That’s right, I am truly enamored with the meyer lemon. When meyer lemon season rolled around this winter, I had my eyes peeled (get it?!?) for them in the stores. But several weekends in a row, I found only an empty bin. Then, last week, I hit pay dirt. I found a gleaming pile of these golden beauties, ready for me to zest, juice and all around use and abuse:
(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos & the recipe.)
I was able to merge my desire to (a) redeem the springform pan and (b) give my meyer lemons a test run in this cheesecake, which was swirled with lemon (meyer lemon, duh) curd. Yes, swirled. And, trust me, said swirling is every bit as fun as it sounds. Take a gander:
Post-swirl and pre-bake, this cheesecake was absolutely gorgeous: ivory creaminess, marbled with a bright, sunny yellow. When it baked, however, it puffed up a lot and resulted in a cracked and fissured cake. But, it was still very pretty, just in a more rustic way. Nonetheless, I prefer to recall the silky smooth pre-bake version:
About the recipes: I initially found a Cooking Light recipe that looked promising. But, because I wasn’t taking any chances with a crust in this potentially-cursed pan, I decided to upgrade to a Gourmet crust recipe. But, I stuck with the Cooking Light filling. A good compromise, I think.
This time around with the springform pan was so much better than last time. The crust did not fall or crack. The filling did not leak out. And, more than just not being disastrous, this cheesecake was unbelievably delicious. It was luscious and decadent. But, just decadent enough. Because when a bite was teetering on over-the-top-richness, you would get a taste of the bring, tangy meyer lemon that lightened the bite and cut through the richness. Quite simply: perfection.
Graham Cracker Crust
Adapted from Gourmet
1 1/3 cups finely ground graham cracker crumbs (5 oz)
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Invert bottom of springform pan (to make it easier to slide cake off bottom), then lock on side. 3Stir together crust ingredients in a bowl, then press onto bottom and 1 inch up side of springform pan. Place springform pan in a shallow baking pan and bake 10 minutes, then cool crust completely in springform pan on a rack.
Lemon Swirled Cheesecake
3 (8-ounce) blocks fat-free cream cheese, softened
2 (8-ounce) blocks 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
1 3/4 cups sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon rind*
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 large eggs
1 cup lemon curd (recipe follows)
To prepare the filling, beat cheeses at high speed of a mixer until smooth. Add 1 3/4 cups sugar and the next 4 ingredients (1 3/4 cups sugar through salt); beat well. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.
Pour the cheese mixture into prepared pan. Spoon mounds of Lemon Curd over filling, and swirl together using the tip of a knife. Bake at 325° for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until cheesecake is almost set. Remove cheesecake from oven, and cool to room temperature. Cover and chill for at least 8 hours.
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon grated lemon rind*
2 large eggs
2/3 cup fresh lemon juice (about 3 large lemons)**
2 tablespoons butter or stick margarine
Combine the first 3 ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring with a whisk. Cook until sugar dissolves and mixture is light in color (about 3 minutes). Stir in lemon juice and butter; cook for 5 minutes or until mixture thinly coats the back of a spoon, stirring constantly with a whisk. Cool. Cover and chill (the mixture will thicken as it cools).
* I used meyer lemon zest for both the curd and filling.
** I also used meyer lemons for the juice in the curd. Because meyer lemons tend to be smaller than regular lemons, you’ll probably need four or five, rather than the three called for in the recipe.