Recipe by mom2alex&jake
This recipe came from Cook's Illustrated. They have tried many versions of this recipe and concluded with this delicious recipe. I made it for Easter this year and it got rave reviews. I changed the crust from animal crackers (which they thought worked best) to a shortbread crust. The homemade lemon curd is optional, but well worth the effort and very tasty! Do not let the lengthy directions scare you off. I PROMISE it is well worth the effort!! Had I not made this myself, I would have sworn it was purchased- it was THAT good!!
Top Review by groovychick
It was the lemon curd that really elevated this to something special. I had never made it before and didn't have a thermometer so I just eyeballed it and it worked fine. I made these in "mini" form- dropped a vanilla wafer into the bottom of a cupcake liner and poured the filling over it. Baked them for aobut 18 minutes. (tip- the silver liners stand up on their own and don't need a muffin tin, plus they look nice). Topped the curd with a bit of whipped cream and stuck a small lemon cookie into the top. They looked very pretty and tasted amazing.
- 2 premade shortbread pie crusts, combined and pressed into springform pan.
- 1 1⁄4 cups sugar
- 1 tablespoon grated lemon, zest of, plus
- 1⁄4 cup lemon juice, from 2 lemons
- 24 ounces cream cheese, cut into rough 1 inch chunks,room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1⁄4 teaspoon salt
- 1⁄2 cup heavy cream
- 4 eggs
- 1⁄3 cup lemon juice, from 2 lemons
- 2 large eggs, plus
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1⁄2 cup sugar (3 ½ ounces)
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into ½ inch cubes and chilled
- 1 tablespoon heavy cream
- 1⁄4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 pinch salt
Directions See How It's Made
- For the crust: Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 325 degrees.
- Press the crumbs firmly and evenly into the pan bottom, keeping the sides as clean as possible.
- Bake until fragrant and golden brown, 15 to 18 minutes.
- Cool on wire rack to room temperature, about 30 minutes.
- When cool, wrap the outside of the pan with two 18-inch-square pieces of heavy-duty foil; set the springform pan in a roasting pan.
- For the filling: While the crust is cooling, process ¼ cup sugar and lemon zest in a food processor until the sugar is yellow and the zest is broken down, about 15 seconds.
- Transfer the lemon sugar to a small bowl; add the remaining 1 cup sugar.
- In a standing mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese on low to soften slightly, about 5 seconds.
- With the machine running, add the sugar mixture in a slow steady stream; increase the speed to medium and continue to beat until the mixture is creamy and smooth, about 3 minutes.
- Scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.
- Reduce speed to medium-low and add the eggs one at a time; beat until incorporated-about 30 seconds.
- Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl well after each addition as needed.
- Add lemon juice, vanilla, and salt.
- Mix until just incorporated, about 5 seconds; add the heavy cream and mix until just incorporated, about 5 seconds longer.
- Give the batter a final scrape, stir with a rubber spatula, and pour into the prepared springform pan; fill the roasting pan with enough hot water to fill halfway up the sides of springform pan.
- Bake 55 to 60 minutes and until the center jiggles slightly, the sides just start to puff, and the surface is no longer shiny.
- An instant-read thermometer inserted in the center of the cake should register 150 degrees.
- Turn off the oven and prop open the oven door with a potholder; allow the cake to cool in the water bath in the oven for 1 hour.
- Remove foil and the transfer the cake pan to a wire rack; run a small paring knife around the inside edge of the pan to loosen, and cool the cake to room temperature, about 2 hours.
- For the lemon curd: While the cheesecake bakes, heat the lemon juice in a small nonreactive saucepan over medium heat until hot but not boiling.
- Whisk the eggs and yolk in a medium nonreactive bowl; gradually whisk in the sugar.
- Whisking constantly, slowly pour the hot lemon juice into the eggs, then return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the mixture registers 170 degrees on an instant-read thermometer and is thick enough to cling to a spoon, about 3 minutes.
- Immediately remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cold butter until incorporated; stir in the cream, vanilla, and salt, then pour the curd through a fine-mesh strainer into a small nonreactive bowl.
- Cover the surface of the curd directly with plastic wrap (not just the bowl- to avoid forming a"skin") refrigerate until needed.
- To finish the cake: When cheesecake is cool, spread the lemon curd onto the cheesecake using an offset spatula.
- Spread the curd evenly over the top of the cheesecake.
- Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to 24 hours.
- To serve, remove the sides of the springform pan and cut into wedges.
- This is a wonderful but RICH cheesecake, so keep the portions small!