August 7, 2009

Blueberry Lemon Cheesecake Rectangles

I've never made a cheesecake before. And I was definitely a little intimidated, especially since the realm of dessert usually requires precision and exactness - none of that "eye-balling" and "season to taste" stuff. But it couldn't be that difficult, could it...?

After making these blueberry lemon cheesecake rectangles, my opinion is that cheesecake ain't so difficult after all! Well, as long as you don't really care what they look like. Taste was the number one concern here.

The original recipe called for a 9x9 inch square pan, which I didn't have. But I did have a 8x11 inch rectangular baker. Same square "inch-age", so why not? Worked out perfectly, actually. And, of course, after reading the reviews I tweaked it a bit: added 2 tbsp butter to the crust and subtracted one lemon. After baking for 12 minutes, the crust wasn't quite done so I popped it back in the oven for a few more minutes. Didn't dust my cheesecake with powdered sugar.

The smell of the graham cracker crust baking was ridiculous! I was very tempted to just gobble up the crust without making the rest of the cheesecake. I didn't, thank goodness. The blueberries were baked just enough that they softened into the filling, but didn't completely disintegrate and still gave a little pop! when bitten into. Next time I might make a blueberry puree and swirl it into the cream instead of using whole berries, especially if I use my frozen berries. And now, the recipe:

Blueberry Lemon Cheesecake Rectangles (or Squares or Whatever)
(at least 8 servings)

6 tbsp butter, melted. Plus more for greasing the pan (un-melted)
9 graham crackers
2 tbsp sugar
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon

16 oz cream cheese, room tempearture
2 eggs
1 lemon, zested and juiced
0.5 cup sugar
1.5 cups fresh blueberries

To make the crust:
  • Preheat oven to 325F.
  • Grease bottom and sides of baking pan, 8x11 or 9x9, with the extra butter. Line with parchment paper, leaving some overhang so you can easily pull the cheesecake out later.
  • In a food processor, process the graham crackers, sugar and cinnamon until finely ground. Slowly add the melted butter and pulse until fully incorporated, should be moist but still loose. Dump into prepared baking pan.
  • Using clean fingers, press and compact the crust into the pan, working from the middle outwards until you have a solid base and sides that are 0.5-1 inch high.
  • Bake 15 minutes. Remove and let cool completely before pouring in the filling. Remember to turn off your oven while the crust cools!

To make the filling:
  • Preheat oven to 325F.
  • In a food processor, blend cream cheese, eggs, lemon zest, lemon juice and sugar until smooth. (At this point, if the crust is not cool enough to fill, cover filling with plastic wrap and leave in refrigerator until ready to use).
  • Pour filling into cooled crust and cover with blueberries. Berries will sink slightly.
  • Bake for 35 minutes @ 325F. Center will still be jiggly when removed from oven. Let cool completely on counter. Refrigerate at least 3 hours or until well chilled.
  • Using the parchment paper overhang, gently lift cheesecake out of pan and slice into desired sizes.
Happy baking!

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