Citrus cheesecake bites

Last night marked my 2nd venture into Cheesecake Territory, to make a creamy filling with tangy citrus fruits, on a bed of vanilla crumbs, topped with a hint of sour cream. I ate a piece this morning with my cup of tea, and oh my!!

Food for thought: did you know that cheesecake originated in Ancient Greece over 4,000 years ago, and that the citrus fruit comes from Southeast Asia?

I found a recipe for “lemony cheesecake bites ” in Good Housekeeping Brownies: favourite recipes for Blondies, Bars & Brownies, which is available on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca.

The recipe title is misleading since it contains lemon, lime, and orange, hence the rename above.

I love citrus fruits. Everything about them appeals to me as an artist; the pleasing round shapes, the colourful peels, the juicy fruits inside, the range of flavours from sweet to tart, and the scent that rises as you open them. The possibilities;  lemon tarts, lemonade, lemon gin, lime Thai, freshly squeezed orange juice….  and they ward off scurvy, too! Let’s hear it for citrus.

Good to know before you start:

  1. remove cream cheese from fridge at least 2 hours before starting
  2. remove the other dairy (butter, cream, eggs) 30 min before starting
  3. do NOT remove the sour cream from the fridge before you need it
  4. you could probably get away with using 1  lemon, and less sour cream
  5. invest in a juicer, they are cheap, they are great
  6. you make the crust first, and while it’s cooling make the filling, and while it’s baking make the topping, which is chilled until needed

Time required: 2 days (overnight chilling)

Yields: 64 pieces

Cost per slice: $0.31

Total cost if you have none of the ingredients: $32.00

Kitchen implements I used:

  • juicer
  • grater / zester
  • rolling pin
  • electric beaters
  • baking pans: 9″ x 13″ nestled inside 14.5″ by 10.5″
  • tin foil, plastic wrap,  & plastic freezer bag

Crust ingredients:

  • 5 TBSP unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 lime (need ¾ TSP freshly grated peel)
  • 1¾ C vanilla wafer crumbs (Mr. Christie’s Nilla vanilla flavoured wafers)

Filling ingredients:

  • 2 lemons, large (need ¼ C juice and 1 TBSP freshly grated peel)
  • 1¼ C granulated white sugar
  • 2 TBSP cornstarch
  • 4 blocks of cream cheese, softened (32 oz or 1,000 g)
  • ½ C heavy cream
  • 5 large eggs, room temp

Topping ingredients:

  • 1½ C sour cream
  • 3 TBSP granulated white sugar
  • 1 orange (need 1 TSP freshly grated peel)

Step 1 – using centre rack, preheat oven to 176°C / 350°F.  Fill kettle and boil. After water boils, leave on Low for use later.

Step 2 – line 9″ x 13″ baking pan with foil, and grease

Step 3 – place cookies in freezer bag and crush with rolling pin, set crumbs aside  (forgot to count how many cookies this requires)

Step 4 – melt butter in sauce pan on Low

Step 5 – grate lime peel, stir into butter, and remove from heat

Step 6 – stir cookie crumbs into butter

Step 7 – spoon crumbs into foil-lined pan, and press down by hand (note: pressing down crumbs with spoon failed, use hand)

Step 9 – bake 10 minutes and cool on wire rack

Step 10 – from lemons, grate peel and set aside, then squeeze juice and set aside.

Step 11 – in a small bowl whisk sugar and cornstarch together

Step 12 – in mix master or large bowl, on Medium speed, beat cream cheese for 5 minutes.  Use a flexible rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl constantly. Already I am impressed with the texture, looking much better than the previous attempt.

Step 13: one by one, beat in the sugar mix (adding a third at a time), followed by heavy cream, lemon juice, and lemon peel.  It is important to make sure each ingredient is blended well before adding the next. Keep scraping down the sides.

Step 14 – on Low speed, beat in eggs one at a time until just blended, do not over beat

Step 15 – pour filling onto crust, and place 9″ x 13″ pan inside 14.5″ x 10″ baking pan, to form water bath. Carefully pour hot water from the kettle into the larger pan, it should rise about halfway up the side of the small pan.

Step 16 – carefully lift large pan and place in oven, bake 50 minutes until just centre jiggles, then remove from oven and place on rack (turn off oven)

Step 17 – while cake is baking, make topping; in a small bowl stir in sour cream, sugar, and orange peel, cover and return to fridge

Step 18 – immediately after removing cake from oven, spoon sour cream mix onto hot cake, use soft spatula to spread it evenly

Step 19 – return cake to oven for 5 minutes (oven is off)

Step 20 – remove from oven and carefully remove the smaller pan (which holds the cake) from the large pan

Step 21 – place smaller pan on cooling rack until completely cooled, at least 2 hours

Step 22 – cover pan tightly with plastic wrap, chill in fridge overnight

Step 23 – in the morning, use edges of tinfoil to carefully lift the cake out of the baking pan, and use a hot knife to cut a few pieces, return remainder to fridge

Step 24 – let pieces sit at room temp for 10 minutes before consuming

Verdict: citrus cheesecake is delicious. I am really pleased with how this turned out. It smells (and tastes) amazing. Although the lemon is the first flavour you notice, after taking a bite and letting it sit in your mouth, you’ll taste the lime and orange, set off perfectly by the sour cream. I think I’m in love.

Glad I opted to use freshly squeezed fruits instead of bottled juice. It took longer to make than anticipated but I forgot to time myself.

I’ve learned a few things since making my first cheesecake:

  1. cream cheese takes a long time to reach room temperature (2 hours+)
  2. yes, it is important to continually scrape down the sides of the bowl
  3. grating the zest from citrus fruits sucks
  4. yes, the hot knife really should be cleaned and re-heated after each cut
  5. yes, a water bath actually can be too high
  6. always read the instructions with appliances that Mom gives you

Current playlist: Gothic metal

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8 thoughts on “Citrus cheesecake bites

  1. I LOVE cheesecake and am still looking for the Ultimate Cheesecake recipe. This looks wonderful – am sitting at my desk drooling!

  2. Thank you so much. What type of cheesecake would you consider ultimate?

    • The ultimate cheesecake: Well, definitely a baked one. I have one recipe that looks very similar to yours – I mean the results do – but it is a tad too heavy in texture. I really think yours could be IT! 🙂

      I will be checking out your archives as I see some other things I’d like to try.

      • I’ve only made two cheesecake, the first was very heavy, the second (this one) was very creamy and light. Both tasted very good but the texture of this one was much nicer. Based on some comments I’ve read on other baking sites, I think the difference was:

        1. giving the creamcheese enough time to reach room temperature (2 hr instead of 30 min)
        2. using a mix master instead of a hand mixing, and constantly scrape down the sides
        3. ensuring all of the creamcheese was smoothly beaten before adding any other ingredients

        I envy people with KitchenAid mixers, they have an attachment that will do the constant scraping for you. The scraping is the worst part of making cheesecake in my opinion. It’s about as much fun as making ganache.

      • Thanks for the tips. I hadn’t heard about letting the cream cheese get down to room temperature.

  3. […] 15, 2011 · Filed under navel gazing &#183 Tagged cheesecake, citrus, restaurants My citrus cheesecake is the featured dessert at The Old Triangle Irish Alehouse this week in […]

  4. So I finally got around to baking this – half the quantities you listed. And, “oh my” is right – this is wonderful stuff! 🙂

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