Lemon curd and candied lemons make for one unforgettable Lemon Bar Cheesecake! You will swoon with your first nibble!
Lemon Bar Cheesecake
I was assigned dessert for a New Year’s Day gathering (of course!) and instead of the usual chocolate route, I veered towards another quintessential flavor, lemon. My friend, and interior decorator, raved about this recipe for Lemon Bar Cheesecake after it was published in Southern Living last February. I tucked away the copy he sent me, knowing I would find the perfect occasion to bake it up.
Perfect for Citrus Lovers!
For the past few years, a group of us has gathered for soup and football watching on New Year’s Day. These friends love to be guinea pigs, so I decided to test out this vanilla cheesecake with layers of lemon curd. I divided the process into three phases. Day one, I made then parked both the lemon curd and candied lemons in the fridge. Day two, I baked up the cheesecake as it needed an overnight stint in the refrigerator. Note…there were pros and cons to not baking a cheesecake in a water bath. On the positive side, there was no need to worry about water seepage through the bottom of the springform pan which can create a soggy crust. But one negative included potential cracks on top of the cheesecake. But no worries as this lemon version was destined to be topped with lemon curd…and no one was the wiser. It’s our little secret, OK? On New Year’s Day, all I needed to do was remove the dessert from the springform pan and top it with lemon curd and lemons. I swapped out the pastry crust in the original recipe for one made with crushed vanilla wafers…and I highly recommend going that easier route.
The gang gave this rave reviews…we started with small slices, but there were second helpings taken…along with doggy bags for the biggest fans. The tart lemon curd was an excellent foil to the rich creamy filling. This Lemon Bar Cheesecake was a veritable triumph!
- 8 ounces vanilla wafers, crushed or processed into crumbs
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 7 tablespoons butter, melted
- 32 ounces of cream cheese (4 8-ounce packages), at room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 4 l eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 6 lemons
- ½ cup butter, at room temperature
- 2 cups sugar
- 4 eggs
- 2 small lemons
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- ¾ cup water
- Grate zest from lemons to equal 2 tablespoons. Juice lemons to get 1 cup lemon juice.
- Beat butter and sugar with a hand mixer on medium until blended. Add eggs, one at a time, beating just until blended after each addition. Gradually add lemon juice to butter mixture, beating at low speed just until blended after each addition, then stir in zest. Mixture may look curdled.
- In a large saucepan, cook mixture over medium-low heat, whisking constantly, 14 to 16 minutes.
- Place plastic wrap directly on warm curd (to prevent a film from forming), and chill at least 4 hours.
- Cut lemons into ⅛-inch-thick slices, removing any seeds. Stir together sugar, lemon juice, and water in a skillet until sugar is dissolved. Add lemon slices, and simmer gently, keeping slices in a single layer and turning occasionally, 14 to 16 minutes or until rinds are soft. Remove from heat. Place slices in a single layer on a sheet pan lined with parchment. Cool completely. (May make a day or two ahead).
- Preheat the oven to 375°.
- In a medium bowl, stir together the vanilla wafer crumbs and 3 tablespoons sugar. Mix in the melted butter till well incorporated. Press onto the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan and about 2 inches up the sides. Bake until the crust is slightly browned, 9 to 12 minutes. Let the crust cool on a rack.
- Lower oven temperature to 325°.
- Beat cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer 3 minutes or until smooth. Gradually add granulated sugar, beating until blended. Add eggs, one at a time, beating just until blended. Mix in vanilla.
- Pour two-thirds of cheesecake batter (about 4 cups) into prepared crust. Add 1 cup lemon curd by large spoonfuls over batter in pan, and swirl in with a knife. Spoon the rest of the batter into pan.
- Bake at 325° for 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes or just until center is set. Turn oven off. Let cheesecake stand in oven for 15 minutes longer. Remove cheesecake from oven, run a knife around inside of pan.Cool completely on a wire rack (about 1 hour). Cover and chill overnight.
- Remove sides of pan and place cheesecake on a serving platter. Spoon 1 cup lemon curd over cheesecake, and top with candied lemons.
Tip of the day: Baking a cheesecake in a water bath, or bain-marie, allows for a more even baking temperature and helps prevent the dreaded crack from appearing across the top of your dessert. If you do use a water bath, make sure to wrap the bottom of your springform pan in a double layer of foil (I prefer heavy duty) to avoid any liquid from seeping into the pan during the baking period. You can also hide cracks with a layer of fruit (I love fresh berries glazed with red currant jelly), some slightly sweetened sour cream or lemon curd. For a water bath, I use a roasting pan, place the cheesecake in the middle, then add boiling water so it comes a couple inches up the side of the pan.