The Inspiration: Lemon Love Cheesecake
Updated: Mar 26, 2021
I had to start with this because this is THE recipe that inspired me to start a blog. Shortly after we moved to Paris, ‘American cheesecake’ suddenly became all the rage here. They started popping up on menus everywhere, in pastry shops and magazines- some pretty darn good, others not so much. I’m pretty picky about cheesecake – it’s often too dense or too heavy for me.
When I first made this recipe for friends and their 2 teenage kids, they told me to open a café. I thought they were being nice, but it turns out ALL of our French friends LOVE this recipe. I have been asked to bring it to endless picnics, dinner parties and even my friend’s 6-year-old asked me to make it for her birthday party. I probably shouldn’t share this one because we’ll stop getting invitations!
This is easy to make (just need to plan ahead) and is perfect for spring. I like to ‘decorate’ mine with ripe strawberries or raspberries because they add some texture and vibrancy, but it is good on its own too. The fresh ginger in the lemon curd adds a nice zing and always has people guessing what’s in it, but use less if you are not a fan of ginger. And if the cheesecake cracks in the middle a bit after cooling, no worries because the curd will cover it up!
Lemon Love Cheesecake
Active time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
*Make ahead- the cake needs to be refrigerated for at least 5 hours before adding the curd
Need: 9-inch springform pan, food processor
8 whole graham crackers OR the equivalent amount of speculoos cookies (160 g) (*they apparently sell them at Trader Joes), broken into pieces
1 ½ cups (90 g) crushed butter cookies
5 tablespoons (70 g) melted unsalted butter
24 ounces (680 g) cream cheese, at room temp (I use light)
1 cup (200 g) sugar
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 4-inch (10 centimeters) piece of peeled ginger
3 large eggs
½ cup (100 g) sugar
1 tablespoon heavy cream
½ cup (120 ml) fresh lemon juice (about 3 large lemons)
2 tablespoons (28 grams) unsalted butter, cut into 3 pieces
Start with the crust. Preheat the oven to 350° F (175° C) with the rack in the middle. Lightly grease a 9-inch springform pan (I use Pam or you could rub some melted butter). In a food processor, pulse the cookies until finely ground. Pulse in the melted butter until well mixed. Press the mix into the pan so it evenly covers the bottom and goes up about 1 inch (2.5 cm) along the sides. (Sometimes I don’t use ALL of the mixture) Bake until golden and fragrant (about 10 minutes). Let cool.
Reduce the oven temperature to 300° F (150° C).
For the filling: In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and sugar on medium-high speed for about 2 minutes until smooth – I use a hand mixer, but you could also use a stand mixer. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Then beat in the vanilla and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice until smooth.
Pour the batter onto the cooled crust. Bake for about 1 hour to 1 hour 10 minutes – the edges should be set, but the middle still jiggles a bit. Turn off the oven and leave the oven door slightly open and leave the cheesecake in there for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.
Loosely cover with aluminum foil and refrigerate for at least 5 hours – I usually leave mine overnight.
Now the curd: Place a fine-mesh sieve over a small bowl (or a really small-holed strainer if you don’t have one). Using a Microplane or small-holed grater, finely grate the ginger into the sieve. Really press down on it with a spatula to get out as much juice as possible – about 2 tablespoons.
In a small nonstick saucepan, whisk together the eggs, the sugar and heavy cream. Add the lemon and ginger juices and turn on the heat to medium. Cook, whisking frequently until it is thick and bubbling – about 6 minutes. (You may start to get impatient, but it does suddenly thicken) Take off the heat and whisk in the butter until melted. Whisk well, breaking up any little clumps. (I don’t mind a few little clumps, but if you want yours picture-perfect, strain the curd through a fine-mesh sieve.) Let cool about 10-15 minutes and then spread the cooled curd over the cheesecake and smooth with a spatula. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes until set. Run a knife along the edge of the cake and release it from the springform pan. Garnish with fresh, sliced strawberries or raspberries if you would like.
And bon appétit!