Mr. H and I are going away for a long weekend. We're not going too far but I'm hoping for some quiet one-on-one time. Well that sounds dirty, but you know what I mean :-) We're going to stay in a nice hotel, relax out by the pool- he developing his tan, me under an umbrella with a book (more than likely a magazine), listen to music, we're going to walk and explore, eat and shop. What every getaway should be like.
In the meantime, I'll leave you with this oh-so-creamy no bake lemon cheesecake. Sound good? Believe me, it was! And it went quick. This was one of the things I made for my mom's 4th of July BBQ. It also served double duty as my cousin's 12th birthday dessert. He and I share the same birthday and I didn't get to see him on his special day so as my birthday gift to him, I promised I'd make a cheesecake for him. He LOVES cheesecake and his parents won't spend the money or the time baking a real cheesecake so they usually buy Sara Lee frozen junk, like he got last year. 2010 brought him a Jell-O no bake cheesecake. Doh! So I felt it was my duty to bake him something homemade, creamy and made with actually cream cheese! Last year I made him Mini Cookies 'n Cream Cheesecakes and he raved about them every time I saw him, this cheesecake was no different. Even my mom couldn't stop talking about how good and creamy it was.
This cheesecake comes from the folks at Cook's Country (America's Test Kitchen) and they don't usually make their recipes available to the public unless you subscribe to their website. So I was glad to find it on Mel's Kitchen Cafe-- she had me at "no bake" :-) This is a no bake cheesecake but you still have to turn the oven on set the graham cracker crust. The filling is loaded with cream cheese, heavy cream and lemon curd, all set up by a little envelope of gelatin. You do have to chill it for a few hours, hence the word "icebox" in the title, but it'll be worth it. You can make it at night like I did and it will be ready for you the next day.
Even though I didn't have to bake this, I wanted this to be quick. I didn't have time to make the homemade lemon curd and allow it to cool, I so used the jarred stuff and it worked out fine. I made a couple changes to the recipe like adding an extra tablespoon of butter to the crust and omitting the zest in the crust and adding it to the filling for an extra zing. I also used graham cracker crumbs instead of crushing up my crackers- it was easier and I didn't have to bring out the food processor. My changes are reflected below. If you want to make your own lemon curd go ahead, if not then use good quality jarred curd and follow the directions accordingly. Either way, you'll be rewarded by a very creamy, almost fluffy, perfectly tart, lemony cheesecake. Enjoy!
- 9 whole rectangular graham crackers (or about 1 1/2 cups crushed)
- 6 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
- 1/4 cup sugar
- pinch salt
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon heavy cream
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, from about 2 lemons
- 1 envelope (2 3/4 teaspoons) unflavored gelatin
- 24 oz. (3 bricks) cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
- 3/4 cup sugar
- pinch salt
- 1 1/4 cups heavy cream, room temperature
For the crust: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and adjust an oven rack to the middle position.
In a food processor, pulse the graham crackers until they are finely ground (I used boxed graham cracker crumbs). Add the butter and pulse until combined. Alternately, the graham crackers can be crushed in a resealable bag with a rolling pin and then poured into a bowl where the zest and butter can be stirred in.
Press the mixture onto the bottom of a 9-inch spring form pan. Bake the crust until it is lightly golden brown, about 8 minutes. Cool the crust completely on a wire rack before filling.
For the curd: While the crust is cooling, whisk the egg, egg yolk, sugar and salt together in a small saucepan. Whisk in the lemon juice and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick and pudding-like, about 3-4 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and cream. Press the mixture through a fine mesh strainer or sieve into a small bowl and refrigerate until needed.
For the filling: In a small bowl, put the 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice. Sprinkle the gelatin over the top and let it stand until the gelatin softens, about 5 minutes. Microwave the mixture until it is bubbling around the edges and the gelatin dissolves, about 30 seconds. Set aside.
In a large bowl with a handheld mixer or in the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese, lemon zest, sugar, and salt until smooth and creamy, scraping down the sides of the bowl, about 2 minutes. Slowly add the cream and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the gelatin mixture and 1/4 cup of the refrigerated lemon curd. Beat until the mixture is smooth and airy, about 3 minutes. Pour the filling into the cooled crust and smooth the top.
For the decorative topping: Using a teaspoon, dollop the remaining curd on top of the cheesecake and lightly drag a pairing knife or skewer through the lines to create a marble appearance. Alternately, you could pipe the curd (I put the curd into a Ziploc bag, snipped the corner and piped) into lines or swirls and drag a skewer through it to make other decorative patterns.
Refrigerate the cheesecake until set, at least 6 hours. Remove the sides of the pan, cut into slices and serve.
NOTES: The cheesecake can be made ahead and refrigerated for up to 3 days. To create a clean slice of cheesecake, dip your knife in a glass of hot water, dry it, then slice the cheesecake. Do this for each slice.
*Do NOT substitute the heavy cream for half 'n half or milk. You need the fat in the cream to whip up and provide body and texture to the cheesecake. Milk will just thin out your batter and it won't set properly.
Mmm! See y'all next week!