Thursday, September 20, 2012

Lemon Cheesecake Squares

Lemon Cheesecake Squares
Home Cooking

 The thought of lemon cheesecake wormed its way into my head at some point this week and couldn't find its way out again. I was hooked on the idea. I had to make cheesecake. Usually, making a baked cheesecake is a real ordeal involving stand mixers and water baths and you end up with a giant cake that's impossible to dish out when there's no occasion for it.

My solution to get around that was to make mini cheesecake squares that were bite-sized and easy to share either with workmates, friends, family members or Marc. I started Googling for recipes. I had something distinct in mind because I wanted it to be baked rather than set (mainly because set cheesecake tend to require condensed milk and I didn't have any of that in my pantry) and I wanted a layer of lemon curd on top for an extra zing of flavor.

I found this recipe, which was an answer to my prayers because it was everything I wanted - a cheesecake recipe that didn't require an extra trip to the grocery store. So many cheesecake recipes call for sour cream or cream or something else to go into the cheesecake mixture besides cream cheese. This one only requires eggs, which I had plenty of, so it was ideal for me.

I followed the recipe exactly but I used my own lemon curd instead of theirs. I would say I used about 1/3 - 1/2 cup of lemon curd. You can buy that stuff premade from the supermarket but man, it's so easy to make yourself. Just do it. You'll need lemons and butter for this recipe anyway so you may as well be making the lemon curd. You can even multitask, which is what I did, and make the curd as you wait for the cheesecake to bake. If you want to use their lemon curd recipe (I won't be offended if you do), find it here.

The original recipe calls for 2 logs of cream cheese (i.e. 500g) but I only had one packet of 250g so I just halved the recipe and used a loaf tin instead of a square pan. It worked perfectly and because I cut my squares quite small, I still ended up with a decent quantity of cheesecake squares. Below is my recipe with the halved quantities. If you want the original amounts, click here.

Lemon Cheesecake Squares
Makes 18 1 x 1 inch squares

  • approx 80g plain, sweet biscuits (I used Arnott's Marie)
  • 30g (1 tbsp) butter, melted
  • 250g cream cheese (I used Philadelphia cream cheese), cut into 2cm cubes
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 and 1/2 tbsp lemon juice (from about 1 lemon)
  • 1/2 tbsp lemon zest (from about 1 lemon)
  • 1 large egg
  • approx 100ml lemon curd (about 1/3 this recipe or 1 quantity of this recipe), warm or at room temperature

1. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius. Cut a long piece of baking paper to line the bottom and narrow sides of a regular loaf pan.
2. Use a food processor to blitz the biscuits into a fine crumb. Add the butter and blitz until it ressembles sand.

3. Press the biscuit mixture into the bottom of the loaf pan.
4. Clean and reassemble the food processor. In the cleaned bowl, combine the cream cheese, sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest. Blitz until smooth, scraping the sides down half way to make sure it is all incorporated (it takes about 30 seconds).
5. Add the eggs and process until perfectly smooth, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary (about another 20 seconds).
6. Pour the cheesecake mixture into the prepared pan.
7. Bake on a rack in the middle of the oven for about 40 minutes, until the centre is dry to touch and the sides are slightly puffed. While the cheesecake is baking, you can make the lemon curd.
8. When the cheesecake comes out of the oven, pour on the lemon curd and spread evenly with a spatula.
9. Let the cheesecake cool to room temperature before refrigerating for at least 5hrs, preferrably overnight. You can refrigerate it uncovered because no visible skin forms over the curd.
10. Once the cheesecake is thoroughly cooled, lift it out of the loaf tin with the baking paper 'handles'. I placed it on a piece of aluminium foil on a large chopping board. Use a sharp knife to cut the cheesecake into half, length-wise.
11. Cut the halves into thirds so you get 6 rows in total.
12. Then, cut each row into another 3 to make 18 squares. This is all flexible of course. You can make cheesecake slices or cheesecake triangles if you like. I just found the squares to be the best shape and size. Just make sure you wipe your knife on a paper towel between slices.

Note: The cheesecake can be stored, covered in the refrigerator for up to a week. For longer periods, wrap it completely with foil and then put in a container to freeze. It then needs to be thawed in the fridge for a day before serving.

I loved these cheesecake squares. I was craving lemon cheesecake and these definitely hit the spot. I started off by just eating the trimmings but ended up having 2 squares for myself for breakfast.

The base is biscuity and crunchy. The cheesecake layer is thick and creamy with a hint of lemon. The lemon curd layer gives it a flavor punch. The distinct layering efffect is lovely to look at too. As far as cheesecakes go, this was relatively easy to make. At least a water bath wasn't involved.

I think that the bite-sized portions are perfect. As much as I love cheesecake, I find it to be too heavy to eat in big doses. These servings were ideal for me.

The original recipe has a great suggestion for wraping the little squares in cupcake liners to stop them from sticking together. I adopted that method to store my squares away. Hopefully that will help them survive the trip to Brisbane this weekend.

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