Friday, April 8, 2011

Lemon cheesecake bars

I had wanted to make something lemon-y for a group get together last Friday night, but decided not to risk the Joy of Cooking lemon bars since they have a disturbing tendency to not set. Two times out of three, I end up scooping the Joy lemon ‘bars’ over ice cream as sauce. Delicious sauce, mind you – but not what I had in mind for last Friday.

A quick scouring of the Internet led me to several variations of lemon cheesecake bars, all of them written with North American grocery stores in mind. Translating them into Europe-speak [sour cream? what is this sour cream you speak of?], I gave it a shot – and the result was more than excellent. The crust was too thick, but other than that, the lemon curd set beautifully and the taste was divine.

(Just to make sure that they had set, I cut myself a slice on Friday morning. Then, I decided I couldn't bring a cheesecake with one slice removed to the get-together, so I had to slice the remainder into squares before leaving home. Hence the photo.)

What you need:
  • approximately 70 g of the closest thing you can find to graham crackers (or enough to cover the bottom of your pan to the thickness you want for the crust)
  • 6-8 tbsp butter
  • 225 g cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1-2 tsp vanilla sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tbsp crème fraîche
  • 3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tsp freshly grated lemon zest

What you do:
  • Preheat the oven to 175°C (350°F) and line the bottom of a 8 x 8" baking pan with aluminium foil [it doesn't matter if your pan is square or round]. Butter the foil.
  • Crush the graham cracker substitutes until fine (suggestion: put the crackers in a plastic bag, seal it well, and stomp on it. very satisfying.). While you're doing this, melt the butter.
  • Remove the butter from the heat and add the cracker crumbs. Stir briefly and then press the crumbs evenly into the bottom of the pan. Bake for 12-15 min., until golden. Let the crust cool while you prepare the filling. 
  • For the filling, beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla sugar until smooth. Beat in the egg and crème fraîche, and then the lemon juice and lemon zest. Spread the batter over the crust as evenly as you can.
  • Bake for approximately 30 min., until set in the center. The cheesecake will puff slightly in the other.
  • Cool the baked cheesecake completely on a rack, and then chill for at least two hours before cutting. Keep the cake in the fridge.

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