It’s fantastic living in California and having a lemon tree at my place. They are lovely lemons, not too acidic and with a smooth lemony flavor. I like to use them in recipes when I can and take advantage of the opportunity. The white chocolate paired very nicely with the lemon and made a good balance of the sweet and the sour.
The original recipe called for an 8 inch cheesecake pan and while I have three cheesecake pans, I have the 9, 10 and 11 inch versions. Luckily this recipe adapts very well to the larger 9 inch size. I don’t like the crust when it comes up the sides and the large diameter made a shorter cake and easier to serve multiple people. I always make my cheesecakes in a water bath, as I did here, though the original instructions was to bake for 35 to 40 minutes. I think the water bath leads to a better texture and doesn’t overcook the edges.
White Chocolate Lemon Cheesecake
Adapted from A Year in Chocolate: Four Seasons of Unforgettable Desserts by Alice Medrich (same book later republished as Chocolate Holidays: Unforgettable Desserts for Every Season)
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
6 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped
1/4 cup boiling water
1 1/2 pounds cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
3 tablespoons strained fresh lemon juice
2 eggs, at room temperature
9-inch springform pan, lightly greased
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
To make the crust, cut the butter into chunks and melt it in a medium saucepan over low heat. Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar, vanilla, and salt. Add the flour and mix just until incorporated. Press the dough evenly over the bottom. Bake until the crust is a rich golden brown and very brown at the edges, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool on a rack before filling.
Grease the sides of the pan again, above the crust level, to prevent the filling from sticking to the pan above the crust. Use a large piece of heavy duty aluminum foil and wrap the pan so water will not be able to get into the pan. Lower the oven temperature to 300 degrees F.
To make the filling, place the white chocolate in a small bowl. Pour the boiling water over the chocolate and stir until smooth. Set aside. In a medium mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese just until smooth, about 30 seconds. Scrape the bowl and beaters. Add the sugar, vanilla, lemon zest, and juice, and beat just until smooth and creamy, 1 to 2 minutes. Add 1 egg and beat just until incorporated. Scrape the bowl and beaters. Beat in the second egg. Stir in the melted chocolate. Pour the batter into the prepared crust and smooth the top.
Place a pan larger than the cheesecake pan in the oven with a tea towel on the bottom. Add the cheesecake into the larger pan. Slowly pour very hot (or boiling water) into the larger pan, being very careful not to get any on the cheesecake. Bake for 1 hour. Turn off the oven and leave the cheesecake in the oven for an additionally hour to finish cooking.
When one hour has passed, turn the oven off, open oven door for 1 minute, close door and leave cake in oven for 1 more hour.
Remove the cake from the oven. Slide the tip of a thin paring knife carefully around the top edge of the cake to detach it from the pan, but do not remove the pan sides until the cake is cool. Cover and refrigerate the cooled cake at least 5 hours, preferably 24 hours, before serving.