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Saturday, November 20, 2010

Lemon Meringue Cheesecake

What I don't get is why I didn't used to like cheesecake. When I was younger cheese turned into cake seemed wrong. But now it seems...Oh. So. Right.

I think this is the biggest cheesecake I've made (in my NEW 10-inch springform!) Definitely the most successful. It is divine! One person I served this to said it was better than the Cheesecake Factory. I understand he was being polite and possibly exaggerating, but I'd say he wasn't far off. Only it served up a little messy because I didn't have wax paper between each slice (how do they do that?) But I did try a new trick: slicing with dental floss, and that did a pretty good job.

Anyway. This cheesecake is fabulous. If you like cheesecake (who doesn't?) and lemon (who doesn't?), make it. Love the toasty marshmallow meringue and definitely serve it up with fresh raspberries if available. Wowzah.

Lemon Meringue Cheesecake
1 3/4 cups crushed shortbread cookies (about 24 Lorna Doones)
6 T unsalted butter, melted
3 T sugar
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Cheesecake Filling:
2 1/2 pounds cream cheese, softened (that's 40 ounces or 5 (8-oz.) bars)
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
5 large eggs
2 egg yolks
1/3 cup whipping cream
1 T vanilla
2 T fresh lemon juice
2 tsp pure lemon extract
1/2 tsp lemon oil, if available
Zezt of 1 lemon, finely minced

Finishing Touches:
Store-bought lemon curd
1 (7-oz.) jar marshmallow creme
Mint leaves

1. Preheat oven to 325. For crust, mix all ingredients and press into bottom of a 10-inch springform pan. Wrap outside of pan with foil to ensure no leakage of batter into water or water into cake. Set a roasting pan filled halfway with water in the oven.

2. For cheesecake filling, in a mixer bowl, blend cream cheese with sugar and flour. Add condensed milk and blend well. Then add eggs, egg yolks, whipping cream, vanilla, lemon juice, lemon extract and lemon oil and blend well on low speed, making sure no cream cheese is stuck at the bottom well of mixing bowl. Fold in lemon zest.

3. Spoon filling into prepared pan. Place cheesecake gently in water bath. Bake 45 to 60 minutes or until cheesecake is just set. Turn off oven, open oven door, and let cool in oven at least 1 hour. Refrigerate cheesecake overnight.

4. To garnish cheesecake, the next day or once the cake is well-chilled at least 8 hours adn 1 1/2 hours before you want to serve it, unmold cake and cover with half of the lemon curd. Then add marshmallow creme in dollops.

5. Preheat oven to 425 and position oven rack to upper third position. Place cake in oven briefly to brown top (you can also use Broil setting but watch it carefully - I broiled and it took less than 2 minutes.)

6. Serve cake, offering remaining lemon curd, whisked so that it is smooth. Garnish with fresh raspberries and a few mint leaves.Recipe adapted from A Passion for Baking by Marcy Goldman
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