I love my Meyer Lemon tree and it loves me. I’ve had it ever since it was just a wee little thing in a 5 gallon black plastic pot. Year after year, it showers me with more lemons than I could ever use. This winter alone, I’ve spread its love by giving away more than 40 lemons so far and I still have at least 2 dozen left on the tree, waiting to be plucked. I have about a dozen sitting on the counter. Life has certainly given me lemons. And you know what they say. Or perhaps it should be make lemon cheesecake!
In a futile (or is that fruitless? hahaha…ahem) attempt to use up my supply, I’ve been trying various lemon recipes, all in the desserts category (hmmm…). Unfortunately, only 1 out 4 recipes came to fruition (harharhar—yeah). And I’ve got Tyler Florence’s recipe for Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake Bars to thank.
I’m not a huge lemon fan (maybe my tree is trying to tell me something) so most lemon dessert recipes don’t do it for me. I like hints of lemon flavor so Tyler’s recipe was perfect. Oh, and it’s cheesecake, duh.
Since I didn’t want an extra tart/sour cheesecake, I decided to cut down on the lemon juice and zest to 1 lemon to start. If it wasn’t tart/sour enough, I would increase the amount the next time if the recipe passes the mustard. I also figured since this is a cheesecake, I didn’t want to completely mask the flavor of the cheesecake. Turns out that cutting down to 1 lemon was perfect for me and the Mister.
Adapted from Tyler Florence’s Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake Bars
Ingredients for the crust:
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs or 9 graham crackers
- 1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted
- Butter, for greasing
Ingredients or the filling:
- 16 oz cream cheese, room temperature
- 2 eggs
- 1 Meyer lemon, zested and juiced (can use regular lemon)
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
- Powdered sugar, for dusting
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
For the crust:
Grease the bottom of a 9 by 9-inch baking pan with butter. To cut out the parchment slings, measure the bottom and sides of the pan plus additional 10 inches to get the total length. For example, if using a 9 x 9 inch pan with 3-inch sides, it would be 9 + 3 + 3 + 10 = 25 inches of parchment. You’ll need 2 of these. Place parchment papers perpendicular to each other and over the top of the greased pan. Pressing down at the corners.
If using boxed graham cracker crumbs (which is what I like to do), in a medium bowl, use a fork to combine the graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, sugar and cinnamon together well. It should look kind of like wet sand.
If using graham crackers, in a food processor, process the sugar, cinnamon and graham crackers until you have the texture of bread crumbs. Add the melted butter and pulse a couple of times to fully incorporate.
Pour crust mixture into the lined baking pan and gently pat down with the base of a glass or the back of a spoon. 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 you might need to press gently down on some of them so they are half exposed — as the cake bakes they will sink a little more and break down.
Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until the center only slightly jiggles. It only took 25 minutes in my oven. Remove from the oven and cool completely in the pan before refrigerating. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours to set. Once set, remove from pan using the parchment lining and slice into 10 rectangular bars. The best way to get clean slices is to dip the knife into very hot water, wipe and cut. Repeat the dip and wipe after every cut. The powdered sugar gets absorbed into the cheesecake so dust bars with powdered sugar just before serving.
The lemon flavor was very refreshing yet not overpowering, which I find to be the case in many lemon desserts. The combination of the lemon and blueberry was just right for us. If you’ve ever had lemon curd (yum!) or a lemon meringue pie, IMHO this cheesecake should not taste as lemony as them. I will definitely make this again and will try different fruit toppings just to change things up a bit. For those looking for a lower fat version, I think using low fat cream cheese will also work well in this recipe.