Strawberry Lemon Curd Cheesecake

When meeting the boyfriend’s entire extended family for the first time, cheesecake is probably a bit of an ambitious dessert to attempt. Even for the seasoned baker, it’s so easy for a cheesecake to go from good to ugly. One wrong step and you have a top riddled with gaping cracks. Or maybe it doesn’t set completely. Or maybe it gets overcooked. So what do I do? Of course I decide to bake a cheesecake for the family gathering.

Of course.

And thank god for lemon curd and strawberries. You can’t tell from the picture, but this cheesecake had no less than 6 ginormous cracks on its top. I didn’t have a big enough pan to cook it in a water bath, okay?! Well if you’ve learned anything about reading my blog is that I find ways to cover my tracks. I’m sneaky like that.

Cracks? All the more to stuff with delicious lemon curd! Can’t glaze the cake properly? Cover it in an impressive spread of strawberries! I win!

This cheesecake is pure heaven. I normally wouldn’t stray from my unadulterated NY-style recipe, but the inclusion of lemon curd in this recipe was too good to pass up. I don’t believe in cheesecakes with sour cream in them, but this one had just little enough to not detract from the lovely texture of straight-up cream cheese. Yum.

Usually, you have to let cheesecake sit out for a little while so soften up the texture, but I found this one to be quite soft, so feel free to serve it straight out of the fridge.

Strawberry Lemon Curd Marbled Cheesecake | Adapted from Gourmet, July 2006

Ingredients
For lemon curd:

  • 1 teaspoon finely grated fresh lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

For crust:

  • 1 1/3 cups finely ground graham cracker crumbs (5 oz)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For filling:

  • 3 (8-oz) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Special equipment: a 9- to 91/2-inch (24-cm) springform pan
  • 2 pints/baskets of strawberries

Directions
Make lemon curd:

Whisk together zest, juice, sugar, and eggs in a 2-quart heavy saucepan. Add butter and cook over moderately low heat, whisking frequently, until curd is thick enough to hold marks of whisk and first bubbles appear on surface, about 6 minutes.

Force lemon curd through a fine-mesh sieve into a wide shallow dish, scraping bottom of sieve, then cover surface with wax paper. Cool completely, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes.

Make and bake crust:
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Invert bottom of springform pan (to make it easier to slide cake off bottom), then lock on side. Stir together crust ingredients in a bowl, then press onto bottom and 1 inch up side of springform pan. Place springform pan in a shallow baking pan and bake 10 minutes, then cool crust completely in springform pan on a rack.

Make filling and bake cheesecake:
Reduce oven temperature to 300°F.

Beat together cream cheese and sugar in a bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Reduce speed to low and add eggs 1 at a time, beating until incorporated. Beat in sour cream and vanilla until combined.

Pour two thirds of cream cheese filling into crust, then spoon half of lemon curd over filling and swirl curd into filling with a small knife. (Avoid touching crust with knife to prevent crumbs getting into filling.)

Bake cheesecake until set 1 1/2 inches from edge but center trembles when pan is gently shaken, about 45 minutes. (Center of cake will appear very loose but will continue to set as it cools.) Transfer springform pan to a rack and immediately run a knife around top edge of cake to loosen. Cool completely, about 2 hours, then chill, uncovered, at least 4 hours.

Cut strawberries into 1/4 inch slices. Glaze the cheesecake with the remaining lemon curd. Top the cake with cocentric rings of strawberry slices, starting from the outside and working your way in.

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