Lemon Cheesecake with Shortbread Crust and Blackberry Curd

In true Maine form, the past week has brought us record high temperatures for May, followed by nights reminiscent of late October.

Temperatures were northward of 90 degrees at least two days last week. The harsh, laughable winter was long forgotten, and we northerners were in our glory as we complained about being denied a proper spring. All complaining aside, the sun, the heat, the smell of grass suddenly emerging from the ground has been invigorating. Every year, usually around the beginning of March I begin to honestly believe that this is the year that will be marked by the absence of summer. This is the year that the snow will never melt, and that we will all resort to burning books to stay warm, “Day After Tomorrow” style. This was especially true this year.

Lemon Cheesecake with Shortbread Crust and Blackberry Curd

Then we hit May, the temperatures skyrocketed, and we climbed out of our hidey-holes to plant bulbs, eat ice cream and day dream in the sun about summer’s coming adventures. In my joy, I abandoned my oven. Turning it on in the heat always seems so silly to me. Why would I roast a chicken when the grill is calling my name? Why would I bake brownies when watermelons are making their grand re-entry into the grocery store. We spent the week eating without a schedule, grabbing a handful of grapes on our way out to the garden. Enjoying dinners consisting of chunks of melon, grilled chicken and bubbly water.

Lemon Cheesecake with Shortbread Crust and Blackberry Curd

Then Friday rolled around and with it came Spring. More specifically, Spring’s chill. The sun took a step back to make way for low lying clouds, and a brisk breeze. Thankfully, my oven welcomed me back with open arms. I had been itching to make a cheesecake for weeks before the summer teaser, but the heat had put it out of my mind, temporarily. As soon as the cool air returned, the urge returned. This cheesecake is the perfect balance between light fresh flavors and heavy textures. It was made for chilly Spring days.

Lemon Cheesecake with Shortbread Crust and Blackberry Curd
 
Author:
Serves: 12 servings
Ingredients
For the Crust
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup powdered sugar
  • 8 tablespoons cold butter
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
For the Filling
  • 2½ pounds cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1¾ cups granulated sugar
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 5 large eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • ⅓ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
For the Curd
  • ½ cup water
  • 1½ pints blackberries
  • 6 egg yolks
  • ¾ cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 4 tablespoons butter
Method
For the Crust
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 10-inch spring form pan by lining the bottom with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, sift together the flour and powdered sugar. Toss in the lemon zest with a fork. Using a pastry cutter or food processor, cut the butter into the flour and sugar mixture until coarse crumbs form.
  3. Using the bottom of a measuring cup, firmly press the mixture into the bottom of the pan.
  4. Bake for 15 minutes and set aside to cool.
For the Filling
  1. Begin by starting to boil 2-3 quarts of water. Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Once the water has reached a boil, transfer it to a metal roasting pan. Place the roasting pan on the bottom rack of your preheated oven. It will stay there through the duration of the cook time.
  2. Lightly grease the sides of your spring form pan with the already cooked crust.
  3. In the bowl of a stand up mixer, slowly beat the cream cheese for 5 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and turn the mixer on the lowest setting again.
  4. Slowly add the salt, sugar and flour and mix until fully incorporated.
  5. In a small bowl, lightly beat together the eggs, egg yolks, vanilla extract and lemon juice.
  6. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl and slowly beat in the egg mixture. Slowly add the cream and beat until just incorporated. Make sure the mixture is smooth, without any lumps of cream cheese.
  7. Pour mixture into the prepared pan. Bake at 475 degrees for 10 minutes. Drop the temperature to 200 degrees and bake for another hour. Do not open the oven during this hour. After the hour is through, check to see if the center of the cheesecake has set. The center will still wobble a little, but you don't want it to wobble anywhere outside of the center. Bake for an additional 10 minutes if it has not yet set.
  8. Remove from the oven and let cool for 2 hours before transferring to the refrigerator. Refrigerate overnight.
For the Curd
  1. In a small saucepan, mix together the water and blackberries and simmer until the berries have broken down into a sauce.
  2. Using a fine mesh strainer, strain out the juice from the mixture, using a spatula to push the juice through the strainer. Let the juice cool.
  3. In the top of a double boiler or a metal bowl over a simmering saucepan, mix together the egg yolks and sugar. Whisk until the sugar has dissolved completely.
  4. Very slowly add the blackberry juice and lemon juice to the egg mixture, whisking constantly.
  5. Continue to whisk the mixture over low heat until it thickens and can coat the back of a spoon, about 10 minutes.
  6. Remove from heat and mix in the butter.
  7. Let the mixture cool completely before adding it to the top of the cheesecake. Garnish the cheesecake with fresh blackberries and lemon zest.
Β 

My love affair with food began on stepstools in the kitchens of the women in my family. Handing my great-grandmother carrots to grate for coleslaw, licking the beaters covered in my grandmother’s peanut butter frosting, and watching my mother cook up Italian dishes covered in cheese. To this day, I love cheese. Besides cheese, I love painting, ocean air, and the smell of tar after it’s rained. My husband Josh and I have created a little suburban farm with our Layla-Bug, a ridiculously hyper dog, and a one-eyed chicken. Someday, we hope to upgrade to a real country farm.

9 Comments

  1. Spring can really be felt in most places nowadays. I would like to say that this cheesecake is very mouthwatering! I would definitely want to have a taste of it. It’s really so irresistible. Thanks for sharing this!

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