This month’s Bake Together is cheesecake, and it wasn’t difficult at all to figure out what I was going to make. I love cheesecake – creamy and mildly cheesy with a crunchy crust. It’s also one of the first desserts I ever learned how to make.
My “problem” right now is a glut of Meyer lemons – I know, I shouldn’t complain. I’m not. But I’m one of those people that can’t stand seeing them falling off the trees in my neighborhood (besides my own tree, there are at least two more on my block and another on the next block, and they’re prolific, especially during dry, warm winters). I gather them up from my tree and from the neighbors and typically I make tons of lemon curd to hand back to them. I also juice pounds of them and freeze it in mini muffin tins. I knew for sure my cheesecake was going to have lemon playing a starring role.
I considered adding a lemon curd topping to the top, but I tend to like my cheesecakes on the simpler side. Still, I wanted to do something besides just lemon. I decided the speculaas cookies we recently made for Baked Sunday Mornings would make a perfect crust – and they did! I think it’s my new favorite crust. I love that it’s not too sweet and there’s that hint of warm spices. It plays off great with the creamy lemon filling. To crush the cookies, just give them a whirl in a food processor.
I made up a batch of cookies for the crust, but store-bought Biscoff would work just as well. The great thing about making a batch of cookies to use as a crust is that you don’t need to worry about making pretty shapes – I just cut mine into rough squares. And my tummy didn’t mind eating the leftovers, despite not looking perfectly cute.
The only other change I made was to lighten up the texture a bit by swapping out the sour cream for ricotta. I think a sheep’s milk ricotta would be great, too – but it was out of stock when I went to the store.
Meyer Lemon Cheesecake with Speculaas Crust
Adapted from: Abby Dodge
Makes 12-14 servings
For the crust:
2 cups (9 ounces) finely crushed Speculaas cookies (recipe here), or store-bought Biscoff
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) unsalted butter, melted
For the filling:
3 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, at room temperature
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
Good pinch of table salt
1 1/3 cups (9 3/8 ounces) granulated sugar
1 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese, at room temperature
1 tablespoon Meyer lemon zest, finely grated
1/4 cup fresh meyer lemon juice
4 large eggs, at room temperature
To make the crust:
1. Heat the oven to 375Â°F. Wrap the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with a piece of aluminum foil and clasp the outer ring over the foil so the edges hang outside the ring. In a medium bowl, stir together the cookie crumbs and sugar until well blended. Drizzle with the melted butter and mix until well blended.
2. Dump the crumbs into the springform pan and cover with large piece of plastic wrap. Place your hands on the plastic wrap and press the crumbs about halfway up the sides of the pan.(The plastic wrap will keep the crumbs from sticking to your hands.) With the plastic wrap still in place, redistribute the remaining crumbs evenly over the bottom of the pan and firmly press down to make a compact layer. I like to use a metal measuring cup with straight sides and a flat bottom for this task.. Bake until the crumbs are fragrant, about 10 minutes and set on a rack to cool. Reduce the oven temperature to 300Â°F.
To make the filling:
1. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese, flour and salt until very smooth and no lumps remain. Itâ€™s very important for the cream cheese to be lump free at this point so stop and scrape the beater and sides of the bowl frequently. Add the sugar and ricotta and beat until well blended and smooth, stopping to scrape beater and bowl several times. Add the lemon zest and lemon juice and beat until just blended. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until just blended, stopping to scrape beater and bowl before each addition. (Donâ€™t over beat the filling once the eggs have been added or the cheesecake will puff too much.) Tap the bowl several times on the counter to release some of the air bubbles. Pour the filling into the cooled crust. Using the tip of a small knife or a toothpick, pop any air bubbles on the surface.
2. Bake at 300Â°F until the center jiggles like jello when nudged, 63 to 68 minutes. The cake will be slightly puffed around the edges and the center will still look moist. Set on a rack and cool completely. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 8 hours or overnight or up to 3 days. The cake can also be frozen up to 1 month.
Have a flat serving plate ready and close by. Unclasp the panâ€™s ring, remove it, and using the excess foil, gently nudge and lift the cake to be sure itâ€™s released. Using the foil, carefully lift the cheesecake and slide it onto the serving plate and center it. Tear off one side of the foil close to the cheese cake. On the opposite side of the cake, gently pull the remaining foil out from the cheesecake. Run a thin knife under hot water, wipe it dry, and cut the cake into slices, heating and wiping the knife after every slice.
- Meyer Lemon Cheesecake with Speculaas Crust (adapted from Abby Dodge)