Thursday, July 30, 2009

lemon cheesecake squares with fresh berries

lemon cheesecake squares

I cannot believe how long it’s taken me to tell you about these cheesecake squares. I mean, please don’t be mad, but it’s been almost two months. While I thought that this summer will be a leisurely season for me to cook and lounge, I could not have been more wrong. Aside from summers being typically full of parties and picnics, I managed to get myself in a tizzy over a move.

whole foods - i should have made them

You see, and now that I’m in a fabulous new apartment I can speak freely: my former landlord tried to raise my rent, then lowered it by a laughable (and I mean, laughable amount and then proceeded to ignore my attempts at communication (that’s five unanswered voice mail messages) only to drive me irreversibly annoyed. And once I get annoyed, it is on! I decided that leaving all the power in unresponsive landlord hands was not my style (I am not one to sit and passively observe) and found an apartment that delivered everything that my current one did, and then some: an elevator, built-in air conditioning, ample closet space, laundry on each floor, a dishwasher (swoon!) and a kitchen that made me weak in the knees from the moment I saw it. Not to mention, it was simply bigger. Much bigger. If there was ever love at first sight, this was it.

cream cheese - YUM!after some pounding... crumbs

And so, I spent a good chunk of July packing and then unpacking. In fact, a mere two week after my move, I only have one box sitting by the entrance. I’d say, without giving myself too much credit, I did fairly well. So, while I had all the best intentions to tell you about these amazing cheesecake squares, I didn’t just want to post the recipe along with pictures and a single missive – just go and make these – now; I wanted to tell you the most important part: the crust.

melting butter, swoonthe crust

Be warned – making this crust is a dangerous thing, indeed. Dangerous, because as you start melting the butter with the graham cracker crumbs, you will have a formidable urge to take the entire pan, walk over to the couch, and devour the the crumbs alone scrapping the whole cheesecake endeavor. Such were mine temptations and I was strong enough to resist. But I will tell you, it was a tough choice. Of course, seeing as I promised to bring a dessert to a party, and initially promised cheesecake lollipops. But, a week prior I managed to sustain multiple stress fractures in my foot from running, so schlepping to a store a few block away all to find lollipop sticks was challenging. Hell, walking two flights of stairs in my former walk-up of a residence was a challenge, never mind traversing a few blocks. So I negotiated with my friend – cheesecake, but not quite of the lollipop variety.

pouring the cream cheese mix

Apparently, cheesecake seems like an intimidating thing to make. But this recipe – really, couldn’t be easier. The whole thing came together in no time at all. Which was lovely, since I hopped about my kitchen on one foot and longed to sit on the couch instead. I’m pretty certain that it would go even faster should decide to use both feet for this endeavor. Unless, of course, you like a challenge.

lemon cheesecake squares

lemon cheesecake squares


Lemon Cheesecake Squares with Fresh Berries
Adapted from Bon Appetit, June 2009

Ingredients

Crust:
9 whole graham crackers
5 tablespoons butter

Filling:

1 8-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
1 large egg
3 tablespoons sour cream
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon peel
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Fresh berries

Preparation

Crust:

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Fold 16-inch-long piece of foil to 8×16-inch strip; place in 8x8x2-inch metal baking pan, leaving overhang on 2 sides. Repeat with another sheet of foil in opposite direction, lining pan completely. Butter foil.

2. Place graham crackers in heavy-duty plastic bag. Using rolling pin or mallet, crush crackers finely. Melt butter in medium skillet over low heat. Remove from heat; add crumbs and toss to coat. Press crumbs evenly onto bottom of prepared pan. Bake crust until deep golden, about 12 minutes. Cool crust while preparing filling.

Filling:

1. Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar in large bowl until smooth. Beat in egg and sour cream, then lemon juice, lemon peel, and vanilla. Spread batter over crust.

2. Bake cheesecake until slightly puffed and set in center, about 30 minutes; cool completely in pan on rack. Chill cheesecake until cold, at least 2 hours. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; keep chilled.

3. Using foil overhang as aid, lift cheesecake from pan. Cut into 16 squares; arrange on platter. Top each square with berries. Chill until ready to serve, up to 3 hours. Serve chilled.

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5 Comments

  • 1
    Casey said:

    Mmmm, these look yummy!

    July 30, 2009 10:22 pm
  • 2
    kim said:

    Good luck in your new home! I know what you mean with being annoyed, I react in the exact same way. When my electric supplier started acting up I also ditched them for something better.
    The squares look lovely. I’m also one of those that are intimidated by the thought of making cheesecake, but these look pretty easy.

    July 31, 2009 4:59 am
  • 3
    Deborah said:

    I am in Cape Verde–no graham crackers available. What else can I do for the crust??

    August 6, 2009 3:13 pm
  • 4
    radish said:

    Deborah – any crumbly, flavorful sweeter cookie/cracker available? Maybe a shortbread cookie crushed? What’s available to you? I think the opportunity for experimentation can be lovely.

    August 7, 2009 11:04 am
  • 5
    Megan said:

    Deborah,
    Can you use Maria crackers? I think those are really similar.

    August 24, 2009 6:29 pm

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