Spring has sprung, and it was brilliantly evidenced by the batch of Meyer lemon sunshine sitting on my kitchen counter silently begging to be transformed into this creamy, dreamy, luscious, airy, lovingly sweet with a bit of a sour kiss kind of cheesecake.So, I’ve done the math and there are four types of cheesecake lovers in this world. Oh, and yes, I do know there are some of you out there that don’t like cheesecake, but since I can’t even begin to imagine that, I’m going to just skip to those who do!
There are those who like a dense New York style cheesecake and those that prefer the lighter, creamer variety. Then there is the matter of a topping, are you a fruit on top kind of connoisseur or more of a plane Jane?
So here are are the mathematical permutations: dense plain, dense fruit topped, creamy plain, and creamy fruit topped. Based on this recipe you may have surmised that I’m an airy creamy fruity kind of gal, and this Candied Lemon Cheesecake is all of those lovely things, plus a bit of tartness and a hint of speculoos cookie buttery spiciness thrown in for good measure.
1 1/2 cups (125 grams) finely ground speculoos cookies (I used 30 Biscoff cookies), may substitute graham crackers crumbs
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons/85 grams) unsalted butter, melted
2 packages (1 lb/452 grams) cream cheese, at room temperature
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
1 pint (16 oz/454 grams) sour cream
1 Meyer or regular lemon, zested
2 Meyer or regular lemons, preferably organic, thinly sliced
1 cup ( 8 oz/237 ml) water
1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
How to us them:
Preheat oven to 325°F/163°C and begin boiling a kettle of water.
Prepare an 8-inch spring-form pan by liberally coating the bottom and sides of the pan with softened butter or cooking spray.
Place the speculoos cookies in a food processor and process until you have refine crumbs, about a minute of processing.Add the melted butter to the cookie crumbs.Pulse the food processor a few times to combine the butter and crumbs until they are evenly moistened.Pour the crumbs into the spring-form pan and press the crumbs down into the base of the pan using the palm of your hand or the bottom of a glass or measuring cup. Finish preparing the pan for baking by centering it over two overlapping pieces of foil that are large enough to cover the bottom and sides of the pan.Lift the foil and cover as much of the sides of the pan as possible.Refrigerate the pan while making your cheesecake filling.
Add the cream cheese to the bowl of an electric mixer.Fit the mixer with the paddle attachment and beat the cream cheese on medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. The cream cheese mixture should be smooth and free of any lumps.Add the eggs and beat slowly until combined. Add the sugar and lemon zest.Beat the mixture until it’s smooth and creamy, for about 2-3 minutes.Add the sour cream and beat for another 1 minute until combined well.Pour the filling into the cookie crust pan. Gently smooth the top with a small off-set spatula or the back of a tablespoon.Place the cake pan in a large roasting pan in the oven. Set the roasting pan with the cheesecake sitting in it, onto your baking rack in your oven and gently pour the hot water about half-way up the cheesecake pan, being extremely careful not to splash any water into your cheesecake! Please DO NOT pour the hot water in first and then try to transport the pan to the oven! If you do it in the oven as I have done below, then you are not risking spilling boiling water on yourself.
Bake the cheesecake for about 45-55 minutes until the cheesecake is mainly firm, but still has a slight bit of a little jiggle to it in the center.Let the cheesecake cool completely at room temperature for about an hour. Then chill in the refrigerator, for at least 4 hours or preferably overnight.
Slice the lemon into very thin slices as I have done here using a mandoline slicer.Pick the best slices of lemon to candy.In a large pan, heat the sugar and water on medium heat and bring a boil.Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer until the sugar is all dissolved and the syrup liquid is clear. Next carefully add the lemon slices, arranging them in one layer, to the syrup.Simmer the lemons on low heat. Simmer for about 20-25 minutes until the syrup thickens… …and the lemons appear darker.Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool. When you are ready to serve the chilled cheesecake, gently loosen the cheesecake from the sides of the pan by running a thin metal spatula or butter knife around the inside rim of the pan. Unmold the cheesecake from the spring-form pan, and transfer it to a cake plate to top with the candied lemon slices. Layer the candied lemon slices in one layer. Drizzle the remaining syrup on top of the lemon slices.Gently slice the cheesecake and serve. A little hint when slicing any creamy cake like a cheesecake is to dip a sharp knife into hot water, wipe dry, and then slice. After each slice, wipe the knife, re-dip in hot water, dry and slice again. The residual heat in the blade of the knife allows it to glide through the cake more easily and cleanly.Now grab a fork (or you know, your fingers) and take a slow, dreamy, creamy, sweet, tart, lovely bite.