Cheesecake

It seems that in so many parts of the country, this summer has been brutally hot. Whether I’m on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, friends are constantly posting pictures of their temperature gauges registering well over 100 degrees. That kind of weather is rare here, and the only time I’ve experienced temperatures that high for days on end was during our trip to Vegas last year. I won’t lie – I kind of loved it, but I can imagine it starts to wear on you after a week or two (especially if, as I hear from friends, the a/c can’t keep up). And I don’t imagine the electric bill that accompanies that kind of weather is much fun to open.

Lemon Icebox Cheesecake

I’m crazy and will bake pretty much no matter the weather. I need dessert, even if it means sweating in my kitchen for an hour to make it happen :) If you’re more sane than me though, this lemon icebox cheesecake is for you; it’s almost completely no bake! The crust is the only component that needs time in the oven, and even then, it’s just 10 minutes. And I bet if you were really desperate to keep the oven off, you could probably find a no bake crust to substitute.

Lemon Icebox Cheesecake

My favorite thing about a no bake cheesecake is probably that I don’t have to stress over whether it’s going to crack in the oven, but there’s so much more to love about this recipe. The cheesecake is super creamy, the texture is really light and flavor is bright and fresh. Lemon is incorporated in quite a few ways – from the cookies and zest in the crust to the homemade lemon curd and fresh lemon juice in the filling – so the flavor definitely comes through, but the cheesecake isn’t overly tart. The decorative design on top makes it look extra special though don’t be fooled, it’s a cinch to create. I hope you’ll find a reason to give this lemon icebox cheesecake a go before summer is over!

Lemon Icebox Cheesecake
from Cook’s Country

{Note: Make sure your cream cheese is quite soft, otherwise you’re going to wind up with lumps in your filling. Also, I used a few packages of 1/3 less fat cream cheese in the recipe without any problem.}

Crust
10 lemon sandwich cookies
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon lemon zest

Lemon Curd
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
1/4 cup sugar
pinch salt
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon heavy cream

Filling
1 envelope (2 3/4 teaspoons) unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup lemon juice (from about 2 lemons)
1 1/2 lb (3 8-oz packages) cream cheese, cut into 1-inch pieces and softened
3/4 cup sugar
pinch salt
1 1/4 cups heavy cream, at room temperature

To make the crust: Preheat oven to 350 F. Add the cookies to the bowl of your food processor. Pulse until they are finely ground. Add the butter and lemon zest to the bowl, and continue pulsing until well combined – the mixture should start to clump just a little. Turn the mixture out into a 9-inch springform pan. Press into an even layer to form the crust. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until golden brown and set. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and allow the crust to cool completely, at least 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the lemon curd. Add the egg, egg yolk, sugar, and salt to a saucepan. Whisk to combine. Stir in the lemon juice, then set the pot over medium-low heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the curd thickens (it should be pudding-like in consistency), about 3 minutes. Turn off the heat under the pan, then add the butter and heavy cream and stir to incorporate. Press the curd through a fine-mesh strainer (in case there are any small egg pieces) into a heatproof bowl, and refrigerate while you make the filling.

To make the filling: In a small microwave-safe bowl, combine the lemon juice and gelatin. Set aside to stand for about 5 minutes, or until the gelatin softens. Then, microwave the mixture for 30-45 seconds, until it is bubbling around the eges and the gelatin has dissolved. Let cool slightly while you work on the rest of the filling.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese, sugar and salt on medium speed until smooth and fluffy, about 2 minutes (stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl as necessary). With the mixer on low, gradually add the heavy cream and continue beating until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Mix in the gelatin mixture and 1/4 cup of the lemon curd, then increase the mixer to medium-high and beat until smooth and very airy, about 3 minutes.

Pour the filling over the cooled crust and smooth the top. Transfer the remaining curd to a small resealable plastic bag and snip one of the corners. Pipe thin, parallel lines of the curd onto the cheesecake, then drag a skewer through the lines (perpendicular to them) to create a decorative pattern.

Refrigerate the cheesecake for at least 6 hours to allow to set. When you’re ready to serve, run a thin paring knife around the edges of the pan, then remove the sides. Cut the cheesecake with a knife that’s been dipped in hot water and wiped dry. Once the cheesecake has set, you can cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 3 days.