Lemons, blackberries, cream cheese, and almonds-really, you can’t go wrong here, especially in springtime. I was asked to attend my good friend’s Seder again this year, and since I made something rich and chocolate last time, I figured I’d go for, well, rich and not chocolate this go round.
This lemon cheesecake recipe from Gourmet is foolproof, I promise you, and bakes up perfectly. I’ve honestly never baked a cheesecake that came out this uniform and without any cracks or indents whatsoever. It’s not finicky and takes half the amount of time to bake and set than other cheesecakes; yet, the flavor isn’t compromised and tastes like something you’d get from Cheesecake Factory. The lemon isn’t overpowering and complements the vanilla bean nicely, and though the crust is made with the somewhat flavorless matzo cake meal, the toasted almonds make up for it.
Of course, the blackberries were an extra addition from your very own berry lover, and who can resist soaking fruit in liqueur? Certainly not me! Mazal Tov!
[Unfortunately, I couldn’t cut into the cake, since it was being served for others, but the inside is very sturdy and lush.] *Note: You will need to start this cake the night before, because the blackberries need to soak overnight and the cheesecake needs to set in the fridge overnight.
- 9-inch springform pan
- Zester or grater
- 9×13-inch pan, or large oven-proof bowl/pan
- Electric mixer
- Food processor or blender
- Pastry brush [optional]
- 3/4 cup sliced, blanched almonds, toasted and cooled [To toast: 400 degrees for 10 min.]
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 2/3 cup matzo cake meal
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 8 Tbl. [1 stick] unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
- 3 [8 oz.] pkg. cream cheese, softened
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 3 large eggs, rm. temp.
- 2 tsp. grated lemon zest
- 1 vanilla bean
- 2 quarts blackberries
- 1 bottle Patron Citronge
- Seedless blackberry, or black raspberry, jam
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pulse almonds, sugar, matzo cake meal, and salt in food processor or blender until finely ground. Transfer to a bowl and stir in butter until well combined. Press onto the bottom of the springform pan and 1-inch up the sides. Bake until crust is firm and a shade darker, 12-15 min. Cool crust completely in pan on a rack.
Beat the cream cheese and sugar in a bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until smooth, 1-2 min. [Do NOT over beat]. Reduce speed to low and add eggs, one at a time, mixing until JUST incorporated. Mix in zest and the inside beans from the vanilla bean. Pour filling into crust in springform pan.
Put springform pan on the middle rack right above the pan filled with water. Bake until filling is set 1 1/2 inches from the edge but the center is still slightly wobbly, 45-50 min. Transfer cake in pan to a rack and IMMEDIATELY run a very sharp knife around the edge, then REMOVE the side of the pan [trust me on this]. Cool completely, 2-3 hours at rm. temp. Place in fridge, loosely covered, overnight.
Remove from fridge and discard covering. Remove blackberries from fridge and drain the Patron Citronge (I poured it back into the bottle to drink later ;)]. Place blackberries on paper towels to dry just a bit. Once excess liquid is gone, place on top of the cheesecake. Heat a few spoonfuls of seedless blackberry jam in a small saucepan on medium-low heat with a few Tbl. of water. Stir until smooth and warm. Using a pastry brush, brush the tops of the blackberries with jam glaze. Place back in the fridge if you’re not going to serve within 1/2 an hour.