So does anyone else have a month where everything happens? Birthdays…holidays…anniversaries…anything involving cake and presents and merriment? In my family growing up, March was our crazy month. Now that I have my own family, June is our celebration month–my daughter’s birthday, husband’s birthday, and Father’s Day almost always fall within a week of each other and since I am now officially full-term and could pop out a baby any day (although I really doubt that will happen…my babies are very unmotivated to leave before they are officially evicted by medical professionals), we could throw another celebration into our crazy equation. And this is coming on the heels of Mother’s Day and our anniversary. To make things even weirder, my birthday and my son’s birthday are uncomfortably close to Christmas. And then we have nothing, nothing the rest of the year. Apparently we are gluttons for celebration punishment.

It’s hard to have celebration treat traditions because we get so sick of cake and ice cream that every year, it seems like everyone picks something different for their special day. So we’re always trying something new and fun–ice cream cakes and cheesecakes and pies (although right now, if it were my birthday, what I’d really want is an awesome steak and a big salad…I wish I could have those kinds of cravings all the time).

Since Father’s Day is coming up and since the surest way to ensure my husband’s happiness is through cheesecake, I’m sharing cheesecake. Lemon cheesecake. Light and creamy and not overwhelmingly lemony and pure evil because it tastes like little clouds of heaven, but those clouds probably have 263 calories per forkful. But that’s beside the point.

For the crust, you’ll need 2 tablespoons of melted butter and 2/3 of a package of vanilla creme cookies (I used 24 Golden Oreos);

it was about 2 cups of packed cookie crumbs when all was said and done.

To get those 2 cups of cookie crumbs, place the cookies in a food processor

and pulse it until the cookies are crumbs.

If you don’t have a food processor or a heavy-duty blender, you can place them in a heavy-duty Ziploc bag and crush the cookies with a rolling pin or a meat mallet. Or both.

Mix the crumbs with the melted butter and press it into a 9″ springform pan. Set the pan aside.

For the cheesecake, preheat your oven to 375. You’ll also need a pound of softened cream cheese (not low-fat or fat free. Trust me.), 3 cups of sour cream (again, not low-fat or fat free–I swear, I’m not trying to chubbify you, I’m trying to make sure your cheesecake is awesome), 3 large eggs, sugar, vanilla, lemon extract, freshly squeezed lemon juice, lemon zest.

Place the cream cheese in the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer and mix on high until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating completely after each addition. Add the sugar, vanilla, and lemon extract and mix until well-combined. Add the sour cream, lemon juice, and lemon zest and mix until light and fluffy and smooth. Be sure to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl because sometimes, a thin layer of cream cheese accumulates and then you’ll be sad when you go to scrape the contents of said bowl into the prepared crust and you have lumps

When your cheesecake batter is smooth, pour it into the prepared crust.

Now…I cannot for the life of me find a springform pan that doesn’t leak. I’ve also had not-so-great luck with wrapping the pans in foil. I’ve also mentioned this tip before, but just in case you missed it, try wrapping the pan in a turkey roasting bag. For whatever reason, it seems to be better at keeping the water from the water bath out of the springform pan. If you’re having a hard time envisioning what the heck I’m talking about, here’s a picture from an earlier post: So place the prepared pan in a larger roasting or baking pan. Pour water into the larger pan so it reaches about halfway up the springform pan. Bake in the preheated oven for 35-55 minutes. Yes, I do realize that is a HUGE time span. When I had an electric oven, as I’m guessing people do, 35 minutes was plenty. Switching to a gas oven was a HUGE adjustment for me and I really had to figure out how to replicate results in my new (and definitely not better for baking) oven. One of those things is that almost everything takes longer in my gas oven. So. Start with 35 minutes and if it’s not done, keep going. Don’t be scared when you get to 55 minutes because I’ve been there and it was okay.

Bake until the cheesecake is still jiggly in the center. Firmly jiggly. Like well-formed Jell-O. If it’s solid, it will be dry and yucky, but you don’t want it to be liquidy, either.

When the cheesecake is done baking, turn off the heat and crack open the door to the oven. Let it hang out in there for another hour or two or until it’s cooled so you can comfortably handle the pan. Remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool completely on a level surface. Resist the temptation to open the springy sides of the pan. Making cheesecake is an exercise in patience.

When it’s completely cool, carefully cover with plastic wrap or aluminum foil, being careful to keep the wrap off the surface of the cake. Refrigerate it overnight or for at least 8 hours.

When you are finally ready to serve the cheesecake, carefully remove the edges of the pan.

To make the topping, you’ll need sour cream, sweetened condensed milk, and a lemon.

Whisk together 1/4 cup sour cream, 1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk, and 1 1/2 tablespoons of strained lemon juice. Carefully spread it over the top of the chilled cheesecake.

Carefully cut into slices (hint: use a sharp knife and wipe it clean after each cut) and serve immediately.

This makes 10-12 civilized human-sized servings.


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