Plan A was cheesecake with lemon curd but sadly, my lemon curd was a disaster. It tasted horribly metallic. I turned to Twitter to seek solace and a chef friend of mine asked if I whisked it in a non-reactive bowl. Look at the recipe, does that look like a non-reactive bowl to you? It only mentions ‘heat proof’. What the hell is a non-reactive bowl anyway? I used a stainless steel bowl and metal whisk. I’m thinking I should use a glass bowl and maybe even a silicon whisk to cover all bases next time. In the meantime, I am grieving. I was really looking forward to making lemon curd. I dreamed it would be like dessert hollandaise. It’s so wrong, it’s right.
I had my mind set on making cheesecake so I had to think of an alternative and this is what I came up with. It features my go-to cheesecake recipe, tweaked a little bit to make room for lemon and pecan. I used this recipe when I made cheesecake for the first time in my life and I’ve stuck with it since. It’s smooth, rich, creamy and very cheesy just the way I like it. It’s also very easy and I like that, too.
For the crust, you’ll need:
1 1/4 cups crushed graham crackers
3/4 cup toasted pecans
1/4 cup white sugar
1/3 cup melted butter
1. Toasting the pecans isn’t necessary but they’re so much more flavorful when you do. Besides, all you have to do is pop them in the toaster/oven for a few minutes. Just make sure to keep an eye on them – it goes from done to burnt very quickly. Anyhoo, finely chop the pecans or, if like me you don’t feel like dealing with nuts flying all over the place, crush them with your fingers after they’ve cooled.
2. Place all the ingredients in a big bowl and mix well.
3. Transfer to a 9″ springform pan. (Don’t you think springform pans are genius??) Flatten evenly with a spoon. Bake in an oven preheated to 190 C for about 8 minutes. You can skip the baking part if you’d like but I think it makes for a sturdier crust which I prefer.
4. Tada. Set aside and turn down the oven to 175 C.
For the cheesecake, you’ll need:
4 (8 oz.) packages of cream cheese
1 1/4 cups white sugar
3/4 cup milk
1 cup sour cream
1 T vanilla extract
1 T lemon juice
2 t lemon zest
1/4 cup flour
All ingredients must be at room temperature so leave them out an hour or so before you plan to start baking. This is crucial in the ingredients blending well together.
1. You know how your oven has a rack and a tray? Fill your tray with water and place it in the oven under your rack. This is called a bain-marie or water bath.
2. Whisk the cream cheese and sugar in a big bowl just until smooth. Don’t over-beat. If you go through the comments section of the cheesecake recipe, you’ll see a lady who INSISTS IN ALL CAPS THAT OVER-BEATING YOUR CHEESECAKE MIXTURE WILL CAUSE THE CHEESECAKE TO CRACK AAACCCK!!! Listen to Crazy Lady. We want cheesecake like crack, not cracked cheesecake.
3. Abandon your whisk and switch to a wooden spoon. Add the milk and mix just until it’s incorporated. Add the eggs one by one and mix in gently. I like to crack the egg into a separate bowl before adding it into the mixture to prevent egg shells or, God forbid, a rotten egg from ruining the entire thing. Add the sour cream, vanilla extract, lemon juice and lemon zest. Stir lovingly. DON’T OVER-BEAT.
4. Stir in the flour. This will look a little lumpy but don’t worry, it works itself out in the oven.
5. Grease the sides of your springform pan and pour the cream cheese mixture into it. We’re done! All we have to do is bake this at 175 C for 1 hour. When time is up, leave it in the oven for 5-6 hours. I’m serious! In that time, the cheesecake sets and cools gradually. So basically, you pop it in the oven and forget about it for a while.
Chill for at least 3 hours and this, my dears, is the finished product. I had some fun with the Foodie Snap Pak on Hipstamatic, a really cool lomo photo app for the iPhone. I luuuurve.
I didn’t know a tablespoon of lemon juice and a couple teaspoons of lemon zest could go such a long way! It added just the right amount of lemon flavor and it’s great with the smoky nuttiness of the toasted pecans in the crust. My cheesecake always comes out pretty browned on top unlike all the other pictures of cheesecake I’ve seen which look snowy-white. I think this is because my oven is a small rinky-dinky one that can only fit one 9″ springform pan at a time (never more than 6 medium muffins, 12 cookies) and it sits pretty close to the heat source. But I don’t mind. So. Let’s have our cheesecake and eat it, too.
Fun Food Fact: The graham cracker is simply a whole wheat cracker that is sweetened with honey or molasses. It was named after its creator, Rev. Sylvester Graham.