Lemon Cheesecake

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Let me tell you a little story about how we stole a cheesecake from my sister.  It was totally by accident, I swear.  It was the day before Christmas Eve that we drove to my sister Tracy’s house for our side of the family’s Christmas celebration.  Tracy lives about two and half hours from us so we’re talking about a fairly significant road trip here.  When we got there, we put the food items we brought in their spare fridge in their garage.  Fun was had, gifts were opened, food was eaten and then returned to the garage fridge until time to go home. 

Fast forward to time to load the car.  My husband grabbed our food from the garage fridge before heading home.  We arrived home very late so we left the food in the car, since it was plenty cold outside.  The next morning, we realized we had an extra cake carrier, containing a creamy, dreamy pumpkin cheesecake that was meant for Tracy’s in-laws Christmas that day.  Oops!  Luckily, Tracy found it hilarious that we accidentally stole her cheesecake… after the initial shock wore off. 

My poor husband felt so bad that he offered to drive it all the way to their house.  Tracy insisted it was not necessary but my nephew was not so easily consoled.  He was looking forward to that cheesecake. (Can’t say I blame him…it was beyond delicious.  I tried really hard to feel guilty as I ate it).  As consolation, I offered to make him any cheesecake flavor he wanted for his upcoming birthday. That’s where this Lemon Cheesecake comes into play.  This was the birthday cheesecake he chose. 

His birthday was a month ago and I’ve made it again since then, plus I plan to make it for Easter as well.  It’s the kind of dessert that’s both rich and refreshing at the same time…it leaves you wanting more!  The crust is buttery, the filling is creamy, and the topping is an extra punch of sweet, tart lemon.  Worth every bit of effort to make all three components.  It’s sure to impress everyone who tastes it!  In fact, I am impressed every time I make it, if I do say so myself.  It’s hard to be humble.   ~Erin 

Lemon Curd Topping Ingredients:

  • The zest of 4-5 lemons
  • 1 ½ c. sugar
  • ¼ lb. (1 stick) real butter, room temperature
  • 4 large eggs
  • ½ c. fresh lemon juice
  • A scant 1/8 tsp. salt (a generous pinch)

Crust Ingredients:

  • 3 c. finely crushed graham crackers (I crush them in a gallon baggie with a rolling pin.)
  • ½ c. sugar
  • 1 1/3 sticks of real butter, melted

Filling Ingredients:

  • 24 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 ¼ c. sugar
  • 3 eggs, room temperature*
  • The zest of 5 lemons (avoid the white pith)
  • ¼ c. fresh lemon juice
  • ½ tsp. pure vanilla extract

Instructions for Lemon Curd Topping:

In a medium sauce pan, combine the lemon zest with the sugar.

Cream the butter into the sugar/zest mixture.

Add the eggs, one at a time, until fully combined; then stir in the lemon juice and salt until combined.

Cook over low/medium heat until thickened (about 10 minutes), stirring constantly, or until it coats the back of a spoon.  It may simmer slightly but don’t let it come to a boil.

Remove from the heat and allow to cool; transfer to the refrigerator to cool for at least 4 hours.

Run through a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth if bits of egg are present in the curd.

Instructions for Crust:

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

In a large baggie, crush graham crackers a few at a time (I use a rolling pin to crush them) until you have approximately 3 cups.

Add to a medium bowl and stir in the sugar until well combined.

Stir in the melted butter until crumbs are well-coated.

Press graham crackers into the bottom and up the sides of a nine-inch spring form pan.

Bake for around 15 minutes.

Removed from the oven and set aside to cool.

Instructions for Filling:

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar at medium speed with an electric mixer.

Add eggs, one at a time, thoroughly incorporating each one before adding the next.

Stir in lemon juice, lemon zest, and vanilla and combine thoroughly.

Add the filling to the crust and bake in the preheated oven for 50-55 minutes. 

Remove from the oven an allow to cool for 30 minutes at room temp.  Transfer to the fridge to cool for at least 4 hours. Removed the sides of the spring form pan and spread on the lemon curd topping before slicing and  serving.

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