Retro Post: Adventure #3: Lemon Cheesecake
These next few posts will teach me my lesson, since I am trying to go back almost three weeks and remember exactly what I did and why. Hopefully once I catch up with myself I will be more successful at staying in the present…
The Lemon Cheesecake adventure was another co-venture with Alimonkee, which will also explain some of the modifications made to the recipe. It was also, I have to say, one of our most successful kitchen adventures to date (even including pre-blog cooking experiences!). This cheesecake was deadly amazing, and a huge hit with our diners, and also so impossibly rich that it was nearly explosive to try eating more than one piece. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
A. was hosting a Memorial Day cookout, and suggested that we make a special dessert for the occasion. She suggested cheesecake (or pie; or both), which I thought was a grand idea. I found this recipe, as with so many of my recipes, in my New Best Recipes cookbook, and instantly knew that lemon was the perfect cheesecake for a hot May afternoon gathering. A. agreed, and we began.
Right off the bat we decided that instead of a pure graham cracker crust, we would use gingersnaps to add more flavor. After a bit of back-reading in the cookbook, I discovered that apparently gingersnap crusts don’t crisp the way graham cracker crusts do, so in the end we used half and half. Other than that, though, we basically followed the recipe as written.
A. went to work on the crust, and we decided that, in this case, more was more and used every bit of our rather excessive quantity of gingersnap-graham cracker crumble. To heck with careful measuring – who needs it? We put that in the oven to set, and moved on to the exciting parts.
The filling was the most delicious smelling thing I think I’ve ever created. The lemon zest was so potent we could smell it across the house, and by the time we had lemon flavored sugar, and then lemon flavored sugary cream cheese, we were fighting off C. with forks trying to make sure we still had enough filling for the cake. Ooog it was tasty. Into the oven it went.
This brought us to the final stage: lemon curd. I was completely unprepared. Lemon curd, to me, is something you buy in a fancy jar at a fancy store and bring home to hoard in the back of a cabinet, saving it for just the right moment and savoring every tiny nibble when you do find an occasion special enough to bring it out into the light. I had no idea that lemon curd could be made in FIVE MINUTES IN MY VERY OWN KITCHEN. (This discovery was similar to my discovery regarding chocolate mousse, but that’s a story for another time.)
Lemon curd is amazingly easy. The only tricky part, as a first-time curd maker, was getting over my fear that I was Doing It Wrong. I was terrified that the burner was too hot, everything was cooking too fast, things would burn and turn plasticky and taste appalling. But following directions really isn’t that difficult, in the end, and by watching carefully and telling myself repeatedly that it really was okay, the curd and I made it through the cooking process.
After I had scraped the pan into a bowl to chill for a bit, I indulged myself and licked the spatula. It nearly knocked my metaphorical socks off. (We’re talking 90 degree weather here – as if I would be wearing socks!) It tasted exactly the way my last precious jar of lemon curd transported home straight from London had tasted. And we made it! I promptly advised myself to forget the experience, for the sake of my health. (Of course, documenting this in a blog won’t help that, will it?)
The lemon curd was ready and chilling, and the cake had come out of the oven and was cooling before it could be tucked away into the fridge for a few hours of quality solidifying, so A. headed home to finish her preparations for our gathering, and I spent a lonely several hours wishing I had more spatulas to lick. Oh it was hard. But I knew that, at the end of my cheesecake-imposed intermission, there was at least one more spatula, and ultimately the spectacular cream-cheesy creature itself.
It took all my willpower to leave the cheesecake in the fridge as long as I had planned. Which, as it turned out, wasn’t quite long enough, but it was as long as we had. So, three hours later, out the cheesecake came, ready for a lemon curd icing and to be transported to the party being held in its honor. The icing was inelegant but simple, and looked reasonably good considering all I had was a bread spatula instead of the recommended offset icing spatula. Oh well.
It was beautiful. I knew each element was delicious, and I couldn’t wait to try it all put together. C. and I took the cake (carefully!) over to A.’s house and shoved it quickly out of sight in her fridge, so no one else would know it was there and sneak a bite early. This was a good idea, since it gave us all time to eat quite a bit of much healthier food prior to indulging ourselves in lemony heaven.
But at last, it was Lemon Cheesecake time. I oh-so-slowly extracted the cake from the spring-form pan, anxiously hoping the entire cake wouldn’t collapse right there on the table in front of everyone. It didn’t, and I was able to proudly cut the first piece, glossing over the minor incident where I failed to cut all the way through a surprisingly hard crust, and where the cake was really much too gooey, and presenting the first slice relatively gracefully to my partner in crime.
Several minutes later, I got to taste my own piece. I nearly died. It was so rich, so creamy, so delicate and yet so powerful, so perfect for the final episode of our lovely Memorial Day weekend. I ate every single gooey bit, and would have licked the plate if there had been anything to lick. What a success! We received accolades even from the non-cheesecake-fans, who had tiny slices just to keep us happy and tried very hard to pretend that they still didn’t like cheesecake, that this was just the exception to the rule, and their gustatory lives hadn’t just been changed forever.
We didn’t believe it for a second. All Hail Lemon Cheesecake!