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);
To get those 2 cups of cookie crumbs, place the cookies in a food processor
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.
This makes 10-12 civilized human-sized servings.
Recipe by Our Best Bites
2 cups packed vanilla creme cookie crumbs (about 24 Golden Oreos)
2 tablespoons melted butter
2 8-ounce packages full-fat cream cheese, softened
3 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon extract
1/2 cup strained freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons lemon zest (zest the lemon(s) first and then juice them)
3 cups full-fat sour cream
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed strained lemon juice
Optional: 1-2 drops yellow food coloring
Use a food processor, blender, or a heavy-duty Ziploc bag and a rolling pin to crush the cookies into crumbs. Mix with the melted butter and lightly press it into a 9″ springform pan. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 375.
In the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer (or in a large bowl using a hand-held electric mixer), beat the cream cheese until softened and smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating completely after each addition. Add the sugar, salt, extracts and beat until smooth. Add the lemon juice, lemon zest, and sour cream and beat until light, fluffy, and completely combined (be sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl–sometimes a film of cream cheese will form and then lead to lumpy batter). Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
If you’re concerned about the springform pan leaking (and really, I think you should be at least a tiny bit worried), wrap the pan in heavy-duty foil or a turkey roasting bag. Place the pan in a larger roasting or baking pan. Use a pitcher or tea kettle to carefully pour water into the larger pan so it reaches halfway up the sides of the springform pan. Bake the cheesecake in the preheated oven for 35-55 minutes or until the center is firm yet jiggly (like a custard or Jello). Turn off the oven and crack open the door. Let the cheesecake cool until the pan can be comfortably handled (about 1-2 hours) and then remove the pan from the water bath and allow it to cool completely on a completely flat surface.
Carefully wrap the pan in plastic wrap or aluminum foil and refrigerate for at least 8 hours (preferably overnight).
When ready to serve, carefully remove the sides of the springform pan. In a small bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup sour cream, 1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk, and 1 1/2 tablespoons of strained, freshly squeezed lemon juice. Carefully spread it over the top of the chilled cheesecake. Using a sharp knife and wiping it clean after each cut, cut the cheesecake into slices and serve immediately. Makes 10-12 servings (or 8 or so monstrously sized servings).