Monday, February 27, 2012

Meyer Lemon Cheesecake

Hello, to all of my faithful readers! Thank you for sticking around while I've been gone. I would like to apologize for taking so much time away from blogging... Things have been quite hectic around here, and I just couldn't seem to get time to cook and then blog about anything. And I've been trying to eat healthier, which seems to consist of a lot of the same things (or at least very similar things)... The good news is, I've lost 40 pounds in the past few months! I go to the gym 6 days a week every week - I have a workout plan that one of my personal trainer friends is helping me with, which I do every Monday, Wednesday, and Fridy, in addition to 45 minutes of cardio training on those days and then I do an hour of cardio training every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. It's definitely a lot of hard work. It sure didn't take this much work to put the weight on! I think if it took the same amount of effort to gain weight as it does to lose weight, there would be a lot more skinny people... ;-)

Anyways! On to my new recipe!!

Last week, I was at the grocery store and just happened to come across some beautiful little Meyer lemons. Living in northern Wisconsin, I've never seen or had them before, since I don't know anyone who lives in an area where they are grown and who would be willing to send me some. As you might imagine, I had never worked with them before. Needless to say, I was delighted to have come across them and scooped up two bags of the little beauties! Although, now I had to figure out what the heck to do with them, and it had to be something special...
It just so happened that I was talking to one of my good friends (Whom I also happen to think is quite handsome! :-)), and he recommended that I do a cheesecake - he's got quite a sweet tooth and loves desserts. I concurred that it was definitely a good idea, as I love cheesecake too, but I didn't want it to be just a normal cheesecake with merely some zest in there. He also recommended the candied lemon slices on top, which I thought were a great idea! I had never candied an entire lemon slice before, though, so I had to look into how it was done and came across a recipe from Martha Stewart that sounded easy enough. The only thing I did differently was to sprinkle a little bit of extra sugar on top of the lemon slices after they came out of the simple syrup bath.

Now, I just needed to make the cheesecake extra special...

Then, I remembered a project I had worked on last year, for Key Lime Pie Ravioli (which turned out rather spectacularly), and decided to make a Meyer lemon curd. I could swirl some of the curd into the cheesecake and then add a little more on top, after the cheesecake baked and cooled, to help hold the candied lemon slices in place. There are several different recipes floating around the internet for how to best make curd, and I don't remember where I found this one but I've been using it for a while now and have always had good luck with it. Except when I first tried to make orange curd using the same recipe, which requires a little extra acid...

The final product turned out to be quite delicious!

Printable Recipe

Meyer Lemon Curd:
1 c. Meyer lemon juice
4 tsp. Meyer lemon zest
¾ c. sugar
6 large eggs plus 2 egg yolk, room temperature
1½ sticks butter, cut into ½″ chunks

3 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, room temperature
1 c. sugar
4 eggs, room temperature
¼ c. brandy vanilla extract, or 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Candied Meyer Lemon Slices:
2 Meyer lemons, sliced thinly
1 c. sugar
1 c. water

For the Meyer lemon curd: Whisk together the juice, zest, and sugar in a saucepan over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Whisk the eggs and yolks in another bowl. Once the juice mixture is heated and the sugar is completely dissolved, take approximately 1 cup of the hot liquid and slowly whisk it into the eggs, whisking constantly. Pour the egg mixture slowly into the saucepan, whisking constantly. Add in the butter chunks a half at a time and whisk constantly. Continue whisking, after butter is incorporated, until very thick, about 6 minutes. Remove from heat and pour through a fine mesh strainer into another bowl or other container. Cover the mixture with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming and allow to cool 30-40 minutes, then chill for at least an hour or until cold.
For the cheesecake batter: Cream the sugar and cream cheese together in a large bowl until well-blended and the cream cheese has no more lumps. Beat in the eggs and the vanilla, just until smooth and creamy. Cover the bowl and allow the batter to sit overnight.
For the candied lemons: Bring sugar and water to a rolling boil in a medium-size, heavy skillet, stirring to dissolve the sugar. When the liquid is clear and bubbly, reduce heat to medium-low and add the lemon slices in a single layer; simmer until the rinds are translucent. Transfer the lemon slices to baking sheets lined with parchment paper and let cool completely.
To make the cheesecake: Preheat the oven to 325°. Prepare a graham cracker crust and gently press it into the bottom of an assembled 9-inch springform pan; pour the cheesecake batter over the crust. Transfer some of the Meyer lemon curd to a pastry bag fitted with a Bismarck tip (or just use a Ziploc bag with a small hole cut out of one corner) and pipe the curd into the cheesecake batter, making several circles around the pan until you reach the middle. With a toothpick, push the curd down into the cheesecake batter a little more and then cut through the curd and cheesecake to make a pretty pattern, going from the outside of the pan to the middle.
Place the cheesecake into a large cake pan or roasting pan and fill the outside pan halfway with water. Place the pan into the preheated oven and bake until the cheesecake is almost set, approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes. Remove the cheesecake from the oven and let it continue to sit in the water bath for about a half hour; remove the springform pan from the water bath and place in the refrigerator to finish cooling. When the cheesecake is completely cooled, slice it into the desired number of pieces and serve garnished with a little bit of the Meyer lemon curd and some candied Meyer lemon slices.