I baked and cooked a lot before I started blogging. So, I’ll be using Thursdays (aka TBT or Throwback Thursday) and Fridays (aka Flashback Friday or FBF) to share some of my favorite baking and cooking projects from the past.
A few years ago when I started expanding my baking repertoire beyond cookies, brownies, and cakes, I was always intimidated by making a cheesecake. So, I eased myself into the world of cheesecake making by making Lemon Curd Cheesecake Squares. This recipe does not require the water bath often used for baking cheesecakes, and since it’s baked in an 8×8 pan, it’s easy to cut and serve neatly. Convenience aside, the rich and flavorful combination of the buttery honey graham cracker crust piled high with smooth, creamy cheesecake and topped with tart, bright lemon curd puts this recipe at the top of my must-bake list.
Lemon Curd Cheesecake Squares
(From Fine Cooking)
Makes sixteen 2-inch squares.
Crust and Cheesecake
9 graham crackers (about 5 oz.)
2 ounces (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
1 lb. cream cheese or Neufchatel (1/3-less-fat cream cheese), at room temperature and cut into approximately 1-inch pieces
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from 1 or 2 lemons)
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest (from 1 or 2 lemons, preferably using a rasp-style grater)
2 large eggs
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (from 2 or 3 lemons)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 ounce (2 Tbs.) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- Cut two 8×16-inch pieces of parchment. Put the strips in an 8×8 baking pan (preferably straight-sided) so that they cross each other and the excess hangs over the pan’s sides. Push the parchment into the bottom and corners of the pan.
- Position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat the oven to 325°F.
- Break the graham crackers into a food processor, and process until finely ground.
- Add the melted butter, and pulse until the mixture resembles damp sand.
- Transfer the crumbs to the lined pan, and press them firmly and evenly into the pan. Set aside.
- Rinse, dry, and reassemble the food processor. In the cleaned bowl, combine the cream cheese, sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Process until smooth, about 30 seconds, stopping halfway to scrape the sides of the bowl.
- Add the eggs, and process until the mixture is perfectly smooth and blended, stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl as necessary, about another 20 seconds.
- Pour the cheesecake mixture into the prepared pan.
- Bake until the sides are slightly puffed and the center is dry to the touch, about 40 minutes.
- While the cheesecake is baking, make the Lemon Curd for topping the squares.
- Set a fine strainer over a medium bowl.
- In another medium bowl, whisk the lemon juice, sugar, and eggs until thoroughly combined and most of the sugar has dissolved.
- Pour the lemon mixture into a small, nonreactive saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon or heatproof spatula, until the curd is steaming (but not boiling) and thickened and registers about 175°F on an instant-read thermometer, 3 to 7 minutes. Don’t be alarmed if you see tiny egg clumps forming as you’ll strain those out later..
- Take the curd off the heat, add the butter, and stir until the butter has melted.
- Pour the curd through the strainer to get rid of any lumps.
- Set aside, but use to top the cheesecake while still warm (it will be more difficult to spread on top of the cheesecake if it cools down too much).
- When the cheesecake comes out of the oven, pour all of the curd onto the cheesecake, and use an offset spatula to spread it evenly.
- Let cool to room temperature, and refrigerate for at least 5 hours, preferably overnight. You can refrigerate it uncovered, as no detectable skin forms on the curd.
- When the cheesecake is thoroughly chilled, carefully lift it out of the pan using the parchment “handles” and onto a cutting board. Slide the parchment out and discard it. Using a large, sharp knife, cut the cheesecake into quarters, and then cut each quarter into four equal squares. To make clean cuts, wipe the knife blade with a damp paper towel between each slice. I like to put the squares in cupcake liners so that they’re easy to hand out and eat (no plate and fork needed for this cheesecake!).