Monday, July 18, 2011

The Cheesecake has landed

Have you ever made something and thought to yourself, "This is so delicious, I cannot believe that I made it." I have that moment every now and then. It's a very satisfying feeling. Most recently, I made lemon cheesecake bars that knocked my socks off. Yes, lemon...again. But hang on--not only was it delicious, I actually came up with the idea for the crust on my own. I don't often stray too far from my favorite chefs' recipes (besides the gluten adjustments), but this time, I came up with something so yummy and easy, I have to share. If you already thought of this, kudos. Just don't tell me; I'm feeling pretty good about myself.

So I've been dying for cheesecake for a long time. It floats in and out of my mind periodically, but this time it stuck as I was perusing the gluten free section at WalMart of all places. I glanced down at the bottom shelf and saw a bag of Mi-Del gluten free ginger snaps. Eureka! I could use these as a crust for a cheesecake! What goes good with ginger? Lemon, of course! I almost wept right there in the aisle. I would have if some freaky lady hadn't been staring at me. I don't know why she was staring except that maybe she sensed that I was on to something.

I got the cookies home and was patient enough to wait for the kids to help me make the cheesecake. That's always a struggle for me. I'm not one of those moms who relishes cooking with her kids. One doesn't want to get his hands dirty. One likes to use the ingredients as play things. I'm sorry, but I don't care how clean your hands are--I'm not a fan of my food being manhandled over and over and over again. But this time I was patient and allowed the shenanigans to ensue. "Yes, I do want my kids to like cooking and baking," I told myself over and over as lemon zest flew willy nilly around the kitchen.

I used a Tyler Florence recipe. It follows below with my gluten free adaptations:


For the base:

  • Butter, for greasing
  • 1 bag Mi-Del gluten free ginger snap cookies
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:

  • 16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature (I used Philadelphia 1/3 less fat)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 lemons, zested and juiced
  • About 1/2 cup sugar, eyeball it
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries (I didn't use blueberries cause I was out, but that would be divine.)
  • Powdered sugar, for dusting


Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

For the base:

Grease the bottom of a 9 by 9-inch baking pan with butter. Then place parchment paper over the top, pressing down at the corners. In a food processor, process the cookies until you have the texture of bread crumbs. Add the melted butter and pulse a couple of times to fully incorporate. Pour into the lined baking pan and gently pat down with the base of a glass. Bake in the oven for 12 minutes until golden. When done set aside to cool.

For the filling:

Add cream cheese, eggs, lemon zest, lemon juice and sugar to the food processor and mix until well combined. It should have a smooth consistency. Pour onto the cooled base and then cover with blueberries. They will sink slightly but should still be half exposed -- as the cake bakes they will sink a little more and break down.

Bake in the oven for 35 minutes or until the center only slightly jiggles. Remove from the oven and cool completely before refrigerating for at least 3 hours. Once set, remove from pan using the parchment lining and slice into 10 rectangular bars. Dust with powdered sugar. Devour.

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