White Chocolate Lemon Cheesecake

White Chocolate Lemon Cheesecake

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)

Serves 10-12

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.

Dessert Party 2012

Spread at Dessert Party 2012

I hosted another successful dessert party this year.  It was a good times with good friends and lots of tasty desserts.  I’m now two years behind in writing up all the desserts, but I can optimistically think I will get to it eventually.  I had a Mardi Gras theme with some decorations to add to the fun.

The recipes for this year were:

Gingerbread Cupcakes
with a cream cheese frosting

Butterscotch Chocolate Pot de Crème
with a butterscotch chocolate candy on top

Glazed Oatmeal Lace Cookies
with chocolate and caramel drizzle

White Chocolate Lemon Cheesecake
made with hyper-local lemons

Cream Puffs
with strawberries, whipped cream and chocolate syrup

Honey Madeleines
flavored with orange zest

Apple Spice Mini Pie
with diced apples, cinnamon, and cardamom

Maple Pecan Pie Squares
sticky goodness with a cookie crust

Bittersweet Chocolate Caramel Salted Truffles

Baked Brie Bites
with strawberry jam

S’mores Brownies

I love s’mores. My friends know that if I have a bbq gathering, it is almost inevitable I will bring out the marshmallows, graham crackers, and chocolate bars as the coals die down. I chase s’mores in cupcake, creme brulee or bar form.  So of course the brownie form was very intriguing.

S'mores Brownies
With the Marshmallows and the Graham Crackers already made, the S’mores Brownies were next in line.   These were delicious, with just the right balance of marshmallows, chocolate and graham cracker.   They aren’t the prettiest brownies, but highly recommended and gooey with the marshmallow.

Adapted from Demolition Desserts: Recipes from Citizen Cake by Elizabeth Falkner

10 oz bittersweet chocolate (70% cacao), coarsely chopped
10 oz (1 1/4 c. unsalted butter)
8 oz (1 c. plus 2 tbl) granulated sugar
8 oz (1 c. plus 2 tbl) brown sugar
5 eggs
5 oz (1 c.) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
4 oz milk chocolate chips (or coarsely chopped milk chocolate)
4-6 Graham Crackers, broken into large pieces
8 to 10 Marshmallows, half cut into smallish pieces

Preheat oven to 350F. Have ready a 9 x 13 inch baking pan. Melt the butter and bittersweet chocolate until smooth (over a double boiler, if you want). Add the granulated and brown sugars and still until blended. Add the eggs all at once and stir to combine. In a bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder. Gently whisk or fold the flour mixture into the chocolate mixture just until combined. Fold in the milk chocolate, graham crackers and half the marshmallows. Pour the batter into the pan. Dot the surface of the batter evenly with the remaining marshmallows.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until slightly souffléed but still wet in the center. The marshmallows will puff up and be a light golden brown and the chocolate surface will crack a little. Let cool in the pan on a cooling rack for about 45 minutes or until completely cooled. Cut into squares, as big or small as you like.


Marshmallows are a key component of S’mores and nothing but homemade ones would do for the S’mores Brownies.


And as I mentioned in my post about seven minute frosting, don’t accept a substitute for marshallows in hot chocolate.  These marshmallows were absolutely fabulous in hot chocolate.  I didn’t have a charcoal grill immediately available but I bet they would be fabulous toasted over some coals.

These came together fairly easily, but were very sticky. I used scissors to cut these into pieces, which helped. Mine were not quite professional looking with some divots from where they stuck while I was cutting them, but they were very tasty. And sticky.


adapted from Demolition Desserts: Recipes from Citizen Cake by Elizabeth Falkner, gelatin version

Cornstarch for dustin the pan and covering the marshmallows

Cooking Spray

1 tbl plus 1 tsp powdered gelatin
1/4 c plus 2 tbl water
pinch of cream of tartar
9 oz (1 1/4 c. plus 1 tbl) granulated sugar
9 oz (3/4 c.) light corn syrup
1 vanilla bean
3 egg whites

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and sprinkle generously with cornstarch.  In a small bowl, combine gelatin and 2 tbl water and set aside.  In a 2 qt or larger saucepan, combine 1/4 c. water, cream of tartar, sugar, corn syrup and vanilla bean.  Bring to a boil.   Lower the heat to medium and cook until 248 F.  Start whipping the egg whites when the temperature is about ~175 F, using a stand mixer, whip the egg whites until frothy.  After the syrup has reached 248 F, add the gelatin mixture and whisk for 30 seconds.  Discard the vanilla bean.  With the mixer on low speed, very slowly drizzle the syrup into the egg whites aiming for a spot between the mixer blades and the side of the bowl.  After the syrup in incorporated, turn the mixer to hight and beat for 2 to 3 minutes until the meringue pulls away from the sides of the bowl.  Spray a silicone spray with cooking oil and use it to scrape the mixture on the the prepared pan and spread it out.   Don’t worry if it is not spread evenly.  Top with a generous amount of cornstarch, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

Using scissors, cut the sheet of marshmallows into pieces 2 inches long by 1 inch wide, dipping the scissors into cornstarch before each cut.

Dessert Party 2011

Dessert Party Table
Another year flew by and it was time for another dessert party.  I never did finish discussing all the recipes from last year yet.  I have been neglecting this blog.  But onto happier thoughts: desserts!   There were some fabulous ones this year.  We had an Oscars theme and that was a lot of fun.  The starring role was played by desserts.  My favorite was the S’mores cupcakes.

The recipes were:

S’mores Cupcakes
graham crackers, chocolate, and toasted marshmallow in cupcake form

Vanilla Crème Brûlée
made to order

Earl Gray Cookies
A spicey, lemony cookie

Banana Caramel Cupcakes
banana flavored cupcakes with a caramel buttercream frosting

Strawberry Trifle
a light cake with strawberries, pastry cream, and whipped cream

Pistachio Macarons
french-style macaroons with pistachio buttercream

Momofuku Milk Bar “Crack Pie”
does not contain crack, does have butter, sugar, and the usual suspects

Mini Chocolate Cupcakes
with caramel buttercream

Chocolate Anise Truffles

Cranberry Almond White Chocolate Truffles

Jalapeño Cornbread Whoopie Pies
with goat cheese / cream cheese filling

"Dessert Party" Cutout Cookies

I would like to start updating with some of the recipes and thoughts.   And maybe even hit some of my backlogged drafts.

A Hint of Lemon Cupcakes

A Hint of Lemon Cupcakes
I adapted a yellow cupcake recipe to incorporate a hint of lemon flavor. I think it adds a freshness to the cupcakes, but without a strong lemon flavor and complements the vanilla. One drawback to the dessert party is that some desserts that on their own would be very tasty,  but when surrounded by superior desserts suffer in comparison.  This was one of those.  They were good, but just not as exciting as other desserts.

I used the basic buttercream frosting for this recipe as well as the filling for the vanilla macarons. Otherwise the frosting recipe makes enough for at least 24 cupcakes, depending on how generous or stingy one is with the frosting.

Lemon Yellow Cupcakes

Adapted from Cupcakes by Shelly Kaldunski

makes 12 cupcakes

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup sugar
6 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp lemon extract
1/3 cup whole milk

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 F. Line a standard 12-cup muffin pan with paper or foil liners.

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In another bowl, using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the sugar and butter together until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until combined. Add the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the milk in 2 additions, beating on low speed until just combined; scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat on medium-high speed just until no traces of flour remain, about 20 seconds; do not overbeat.

Divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups, filling each about three-fourths full, using a large scoop is ideal. Bake until lightly golden and a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean, 18-20 minutes. Let the cupcakes cool in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Transfer the cupcakes to the wire rack and let cool completely, about 1 hour.

Frost the cupcakes with the buttercream and serve, using a star tip and pastry bag, if desired. Decorate with sprinkles.

Vanilla Buttercream

Adapted from Cupcakes by Shelly Kaldunski

3 large egg whites, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract

In a large, clean heatproof bowl, combine the egg whites and sugar. Set the bowl over (but not touching) simmering water in a saucepan and heat the mixture, whisking constantly, until the sugar has completely dissolved and the mixture is very warm to the touch (about 160 F on an instant-read thermometer), about 2 minutes. Remove the bowl from the saucepan. Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat the egg white mixture until it is fluffy, cooled to room temperature , and holds stiff peaks (the mixture should not look dry), about 6 minutes.

With the mixer on medium-low speed, add the salt and the butter, a few pieces at a time, beating well after each addition. If the frosting appears to separate or is very liquid after all the butter is added, continue to beat on high speed until it is smooth and creamy, 3-5 minutes more. Add the vanilla flavoring and beat until combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Use right away.

Snickerdoodle Cupcakes

Snickerdoodle Cupcakes
These were delicious.  They were light and moist with a nice cinnamon flavor.  I’m generally not a fan of snickerdoodle cookies, they are usually too bland for me.   These cupcakes are far superior to their cookie cousins.  I do prefer most things in cupcake form.

The frosting is a seven minute frosting.  It is similar to  a marshmallow but with a fluffier texture, contains no gelatin and is very pipe-able.  It does need to be eaten within about a day or it starts to soften and lose structure.  I’ve made this with a hand mixer, but it is much, much easier with a stand mixer so that the eggs can be whipped hands-free and the boiling hot and dangerous syrup can be controlled with two hands.

I had some leftover frosting and thought I would add it to hot chocolate, since it reminded me of marshmallows.  I think this was the worst idea I had in a long time.  It was disgusting in hot chocolate.  It didn’t melt, but the sugar dissolved and then the remaining egg parts cooked into little egg bits.  Yuck!  Don’t ever try it.  In hindsight, it is obvious that it was a bad idea.  I’m always careful when I temper eggs in custards so they don’t cook, why would I think to do this?

Snickerdoodle Cupcakes

adapted from Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon, plus 1/2 teaspoon for dusting
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 3/4 cups sugar, plus 2 tablespoons for dusting
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Sift together both flours, baking powder, salt, and 1 tablespoon cinnamon.
With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of milk, and beating until combined after each.
Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes. Cupcakes can be stored up to 2 days at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.
To finish, combine remaining 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 2 tablespoons sugar. Using a pastry bag fitted with a large plain tip (Ateco No. 809 or Wilton No. 1A), pipe frosting on each cupcake: Hold bag over cupcake with tip just above top, and squeeze to create a dome of frosting, then release pressure and pull up to form a peak. Using a small, fine sieve, dust peaks with cinnamon-sugar. Cupcakes are best eaten the day they are frosted; keep at room temperature until ready to serve.

Seven Minute Frosting

adapted from Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes

1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2/3 cup water
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
6 large egg whites, room temperature
Combine 1 1/2 cups sugar with the water and corn syrup in a small saucepan; clip a candy thermometer to side of pan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves. Continue boiling, without stirring, until syrup reaches 230 degrees.
Meanwhile, in the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk egg whites on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. With mixer running, add remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, beating to combine.
As soon as sugar syrup reaches 230 degrees, remove from heat. With mixer on medium-low speed, pour syrup down side of bowl in a slow, steady stream. Raise speed to medium-high; whisk until mixture is completely cool (test by touching the bottom of the bowl) and stiff (but not dry) peaks form, about 7 minutes. Use immediately.

Graham Crackers

Graham Crackers
These were chewy and had a great taste.  The broke into pieces easily and didn’t crumble.  I had some trouble rolling these out and needed a significant amount of flour to prevent them from sticking.  I also could not form them into a nice rectangle, but I think “rustic’ is perfectly appropriate also, especially since I broke them up for use in the S’mores Brownies.  It was also exceeding difficult to transfer to the baking sheet as a large cookie.  When I make this again, I will divide the dough into smaller portions and roll it out in smaller pieces, making it easier to transfer and not worry about making it two big pieces.

Graham Crackers

adapted from Demolition Desserts: Recipes from Citizen Cake by Elizabeth Falkner

8 ounces (1 1/2 cups plus 2 tbl) whole wheat flour (not white whole wheat)
4 ounces ( 3/4 cup plus 1 tbl) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon cold water
4 tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
4 1/1 ounces by weight (1/4 cup plus 2 tbl) honey
2 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces by weight) unsulfured dark molasses
1 large egg

In a medium bowl, stir together the whole wheat and all-purpose flours and set aside.  In a small bowl, stir together the baking soda and water until the soda dissolves.
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment cream together the butter and sugar on medium speed for 1 to 20 minutes, or until thoroughly combined and slightly paler.  Add the honey and molasses and continue to mix for 30 seconds to 1 minute.   Add the egg and mix for 15 to 20 seconds or until incorporated.  Add the baking soda mixture and mix for about 30 seconds, until combined.  Add half of the flour mixture and mix for 15 to 30 seconds.  Then add the remaining flour mixture and mix for 15 to 30 seconds or until combined.
Divide the dough in half (about 13 ounces for each half) or into smaller pieces and place each on a sheet of plastic wrap.  Shape each piece into a block or flatten into a disk.  Refrigerate the dough for at least 4 hours or preferably overnight.  You can also freeze half or all of the dough for up to 1 month.
Position racks in the upper and lower third of the oven and pre-heat the oven to 325 F.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Check to see that your dough is firm enough to work with.  It should be a little sticky but still hold together.  Lightly dust the work surface with flour.  Unwrap half of the dough and knead it a few times on the floured surface.  Dust a rolling pin with flour and then roll out the dough into a rectangle about 12 x 9 inches and 1/4 inch thick or into a rustic shape about 1/4 inch thick, adding more flour to the work surface as needed to prevent the dough from sticking.
Transfer the dough to one of the prepared.  Bake the dough as a single piece and then break it into randomly sized shards after it has cooled.  You can also cut the dough into a dozen 3 inch squares or any other shapes.  Repeat with the second half of the dough.
Bake the cookies for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the color of graham crackers.  The cookies will puff during baking but will flatten as they cool.  Let the grahams cool completely on the pans on cooling racks before removing them.  They keep for 1 week in an airtight container at room temperature, or they can be frozen for up to 1 month.

Dessert Party 2010

Dessert Party 2010
My dessert party this year was another great success.  I had some delicious desserts and great friends to share them with.  More details on all the recipes will be coming soon, including the results of the voting for the best dessert.

The recipes made were:

S’mores Brownies

a rich chocolate brownie with graham crackers and marshmallows

Orange Tart

a creamy orange-flavored tart


a buttery cookie with dulce de leche filling

Snickerdoodle Cupcakes

cinnamon-flavored cupcakes with a soft frosting

A Hint of Lemon Cupcakes

vanilla cupcakes with a hint of lemon with a buttercream frosting

Vanilla Macarons

french-style macaroons with vanilla buttercream

Graham Crackers

a whole wheat based molasses sweetened cookie


vanilla-flavored marshmallows

Dulce de Leche

a caramel-like sauce