Food & Drink

Lemon fans: This cheesecake is your dream come true

Dreamy Lemon Cheesecake has a lemon-cookie crust and lemon curd on top.
Dreamy Lemon Cheesecake has a lemon-cookie crust and lemon curd on top. Susan Banks/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette/TNS

Lush, lovely, lemons can be used for many things, as ingredients in sweet and savory dishes and dressings, in beverages, or for a snappy puckish garnish. The juice, the pulp and also the zest can be used in any number of ways.

Is there anything this little vitamin C-packed orb can’t do? And don’t forget, when you are finished with the fruit, drop the remnants down the garbage disposal and run it to freshen up the kitchen.

Pick lemons that are bright yellow, firm and heavy for their size. Fresh lemons will last two to four weeks on the counter and one to two months in the refrigerator, says, making them easy keepers.

You may also run across Meyer lemons, which are a cross between a lemon and an orange. This variety has become trendy once again as some celebrity chefs, such as Martha Stewart, have embraced them. Meyer lemons are smaller, rounder and sweeter than regular lemons, and sometimes show up in stores from December through May.

Whatever lemon you find, there is no end of ways to make use of them.

Dreamy Lemon Cheesecake

Adapted from Southern Living. This cake is dense and the crust is very sweet, so a little bit goes a long way. To cut the sweetness, substitute graham crackers for the crushed lemon-filled sandwich cookies.

2 1/2 cups crushed cream-filled lemon sandwich cookies (about 25 cookies)

2 1/2 tablespoons salted butter, melted

5 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 tablespoons flour

4 large eggs

2 large egg yolks

1 tablespoon lemon zest, plus 5 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 2 lemons)

2 tablespoons heavy cream

1 cup lemon curd (see recipe, or use a prepared version)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wrap outside of a lightly greased 9-inch shiny springform pan in a double layer of heavy-duty foil. Stir together crushed cookies and melted butter in a bowl and press into prepared pan.

Bake until lightly browned, 7 to 8 minutes. Cool on a wire rack until ready to use. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees.

Beat cream cheese with a heavy-duty mixer on medium speed until creamy, about 5 minutes. Gradually add sugar and flour, beating until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, and then egg yolks one at a time, beating just until yellow disappears. Stir in lemon zest, lemon juice and heavy cream.

Pour cream cheese mixture over pre-baked crust. Place springform pan in a roasting pan. Add boiling water to reach halfway up sides of pan.

Bake at 325 degrees until center is almost set, but still slightly wobbly, about 1 hour and 10 to 20 minutes. Turn oven off and crack the door open. Let the cake sit in oven for an additional hour.

Remove cheesecake carefully from pan and water bath and place on a wire rack. Cool completely, about 2 hours. Cover with plastic wrap or foil, making sure it doesn’t touch top of cake. Chill 8 to 24 hours.

Gently run a knife around outer edge of the cheesecake to loosen it from the pan. Remove sides of springform pan. Spread top with 1 cup of lemon curd.

Yield: 12 servings.

Lemon Curd

From Southern Living. It can be used as a topping or filling for desserts, folded into whipped cream or used as a spread. It’s will keep up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator in a airtight container.

1/2 cup salted butter softened

2 cups sugar

4 large eggs

2 large egg yolks

1 tablespoon lemon zest, plus 1 cup fresh juice (about 4 large lemons)

Beat butter and sugar with a mixer on medium speed until blended, about 45 seconds. Add eggs and yolks, one at a time until just blended after each addition. Gradually add lemon juice to butter mixture beating at low speed just until mixed. Stir in zest. (Mixture will look curdled).

Transfer mixture to a heavy 4-quart saucepan, and cook, whisking constantly over medium-low heat until mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon, 14 to 16 minutes.

Transfer curd to a bowl and place plastic wrap directly on warm curd (to prevent film from forming). Chill until firm, about 4 hours. Refrigerate in an airtight container up to 2 weeks.