So I recently developed this incredible love of preserving lemons. For those who don’t know, it’s basically a sweeter way of pickling, where you place sliced or chopped lemons in a jar with some equal parts vinegar, water, salt, and sugar. Seal it up tight and stick it in your fridge for a week. What you end up with: the most lemony lemons that a girl could ask for.
I’m a huge citrus fan. Stick me in a fresh farmers market around the end of winter, beginning of spring and I’m in heaven – cirtus galore! There is a fantastic huge local market in Berkeley called The Berkeley Bowl that has rows and rows of fresh citrus and cirtus crossbreeds and citrus hybrids that were so plentiful that I almost became a citrus-terian right then and there.
I digress. Earlier this week, (Monday the 8th, to be exact) I came across the stroke of luck that my neighbor was trying to give away bags of lemons that her tree had grown, since she had so many that she couldn’t handle them all. I ended up with about 20 lemons that I needed to find a use for. Thus came the inspiration: preserved lemon curd cheesecake. yesssssssssss.
After I cut up about 15 of said lemons (they were really small since they were homegrown), I gave them all seed-ectomies and neatly stacked them in an old plastic jar and set them up in my fridge to marinate. (the longer they sit, the better they taste.)
Today, I went out to get all the main ingredients for a standard cheesecake.
Note: there are about a million diversions and ways to craft a cheesecake, the usual only unifier is the cream cheese. I made this one with the addition of heavy cream in the mix because it makes for a creamier, smoother consistency. Feel free to switch out your version if you prefer things like mascarpone, whipped cream, or whole milk.
To save myself some trouble, I used one of the generic graham cracker crusts. The instructions say to bake it crust before filling by brushing it with egg whites first.
Note: Because my crust had some cracks and crumbles, and in general every crust needs a little bit extra fat to keep it from drying out too much, I brushed mine with about 1 tablespoon of melted butter first AND then one egg white before sticking it in the oven for 6 minutes at 375. When it came out, the cracks were minimalized and it was a beautiful golden brown. A welcome home for its lemony filling.
First step: make the cheesecake filling.
Weapon of choice: my gorgeous red beast a.k.a. KitchenAid 13-cup Food Processor with ExactSlice. (best christmas present I’ve ever gotten. Thanks, Mom.) This thing is literally the Red Camero of the kitchen electronics crop. It can slice, dice, shred, liquify, chop, knead, etc. When they make an attachment for it to start folding laundry too, my life will be complete.
Note: Make sure to check your cheesecake often while it is baking, a cheesecake should only be very lightly toasted on the edges. If you see golden brown on the whole top, you’ve overcooked it and it will be really dry.
20 ounces cream cheese (2 1/2 8-ounce packages), at room temperature
1/2 cup of heavy cream
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1/4 cup preserved lemon juice
1/3 cup preserved lemon (about six thick slices), with 1/4 cup preserved lemon juice
3 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
For the cheesecake: Move a rack to the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°. Have your cooled, 9-inch pre-baked pie shell ready.
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese, heavy cream and sugar at medium-high speed until fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition and stopping to scrape as needed. Add the preserved lemon juice; mix at low speed until combined. Pour into the shell and bake until cake is set and puffed around its edges but still trembles slightly when pan is shaken gently, 35-40 minutes. Remove pan to a rack and cool completely. Cover loosely and refrigerate at least 8 hours. Meanwhile, make the lemon curd.
For lemon curd: Have ready a saucepan of simmering water, a medium stainless steel bowl that will fit inside the saucepan without touching the water, a second stainless steel bowl and fine mesh strainer.
Make sure your preserved lemons are well ground up, zesty rind and all, so all of the lemon flavor can infuse into your curd.
Combine the preserved lemon and juice, eggs and sugar in the first stainless steel bowl, whisking until blended. Place the bowl over the saucepan of simmering water and cook, stirring constantly to prevent curdling, until the mixture becomes thick, about 8-10 minutes.
Remove the bowl and saucepan from the heat and immediately pour the curd through the fine mesh strainer into the second bowl to remove any lumps. Press the curd through the strainer, if necessary.
Whisk the butter into the lemon mixture until the butter has melted and is well combined. Stir in the lemon zest and let the curd cool to room temperature. (Makes about 1 1/2 cups lemon curd).
The lemon curd will continue to thicken as it cools. Cover and refrigerate.
To assemble: When curd and cheesecake have chilled about 8 hours, spread a medium layer of lemon curd – about half of the curd, or to taste – over the top of the cake. Save the leftover lemon curd for another use or simply to spread on toast. Refrigerate the cheesecake until ready to serve. For best results, let it chill overnight.
This recipe was original adapted and modified from the San Francisco Chronicle special on flourless desserts for Passover a few weeks ago, but obviously the graham cracker crust negates the flourless claim.
I will make sure to post shots of the final product tomorrow. Try the recipe out if you have the time, the homemade curd is devine!
Thanks and happy eats,