Lemon Bar Cheesecake

Cheesecake is one of those things that can basically be made in any flavor combination. When I was trying to decide what kind to make, I was grappling between tiramisu cheesecake, chocolate raspberry cheesecake, and this one. Ultimately, I chose the lemon bar cheesecake because of how summery it is. The ricotta in the cheesecake filling makes it light and fluffy, and the lemon curd on the top lends some concentrated, tart lemon flavor. This could easily be made into cheesecake bars as well, to take the “lemon bar” theme a little further. In the end, I only slightly adapted the original recipe by making my own lemon curd, and changing the crust to a gingersnap crust instead of vanilla–I like the extra spice.

Lemon Bar Cheesecake

Cookie crumbs! This step is definitely the most delicious.
Cookie crumbs! This step is definitely the most delicious.
The main ingredients! Lemons.
The main ingredients! Lemons.
Cream cheese and ricotta are now one.
Cream cheese and ricotta are now one.
Helloooo, cheesecake.
Helloooo, cheesecake.
Ready to be devoured.
Ready to be devoured.

For the crust:

  • 2 C ginger cookie crumbs
  • 7 T unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 T granulated sugar

For the filling:

  • 3 8 oz. packages of cream cheese, at room temp.
  • 2 T all-purpose flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 1/4 C granulated sugar
  • 2 T grated lemon zest
  • 1 T vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs at room temp

For the lemon curd:

  • 1 stick butter
  • 3/4 C granulated sugar
  • 1/2 C freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 T lightly packed lemon zest
  • Pinch salt
  • 6 large egg yolks

Make the Crust

Heat the oven to 375 and line a 9″ spring-form pan with parchment paper. In a large bowl, mix cookie crumbs and granulated sugar until incorporated. Add the melted butter, and stir until the crumbs are evenly moist and begin to clump together. Pour the mixture into the pan and press to cover the bottom and about 2″ up the sides. I just used my fingers to press it, but you could use plastic wrap or a flat-bottomed measuring cup. Bake the crust until lightly browned and fragrant, about 9 minutes. Remove, set aside to cool, and lower the oven temperature to 300.

Make the Filling:

In a stand mixer beat the ricotta, cream cheese, salt, and flour together on medium until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl every once in a while. Add the sugar and continue to blend until smooth. Add lemon zest and vanilla, and beat to incorporate for 30 seconds. Beat in the eggs one at a time, but don’t over-beat once they have been added, or your cheesecake will puff up too much and crack as it cools (which mine did. yay.)  Pour the filling into the cooled crust and bake for 55-65 minutes, until the center “jiggles like jell-o” when nudged, and the center still looks moist. Remove from the oven and let cool, and then refrigerate the cake until completely chilled; at least 8 hours.

Make the Curd:

In a small saucepan, melt the butter. Remove from the heat and whisk in the lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, and sugar. Whisk in the egg yolks and return to the stove, whisking constantly over low heat. A check for done-ness: dip a wooden spoon into the lemon curd and draw your finger through the curd. If it leaves a path, you’re done. Remove curd from the heat and let cool, stirring every once and a while. Refrigerate if you aren’t going to use it right away.

Assemble!

Remove the cake from the pan and cut into slices. Top each slice with a dollop of lemon curd and enjoy!! This tastes great served with fresh berries: raspberry, blueberry, strawberry, blackberry, or a combination of them all!

It would also probably be delicious if you made a berry compote to have on top of it. Can you ever have too many berries? No.

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