Ultimate Lemon Mousse Cheesecake

Ultimate Lemon Mousse Cheesecake
Ultimate Lemon Mousse Cheesecake
If you are a cheesecake lover and a lemon lover, this is your ultimate dessert. I started with a simple, buttery, lemon shortbread cookie base and topped it with a creamy lemon cheesecake where whipped cream gets beaten to soft peaks before being folded into the cheesecake batter. A tart and sweet homemade lemon curd tops it all of before being garnished with candied lemon zest; truly a the ultimate tart and sweet, lemon lovers dream dessert.

A word about baking a cheesecake in a bain marie before starting the recipe. A bain marie is simply a water bath that buffers the direct heat from the sides and bottom of the baking pan to more evenly bake the cheesecake from the sides to the center.

I bake my cheesecakes in a 9 or 10 inch spring form pan that has the bottom and sides wrapped in multiple layers of wide heavy duty aluminum foil which forms a sort of boat that the cheesecake pan sits in. The roll of aluminum foil that I use is about 16 inches wide. I use at least 4 layers of foil to make sure that no water leaks in and ruins the crust of my cheesecake. The aluminum foil wrapped pan is then placed inside a larger baking pan; I use a 12 inch cake pan. Boiling water is then poured into the larger pan filling it from 1/2 to 2/3 of the way to the top.

I find it best to pour the boiling water into the pan after it is placed on the rack in the oven as you are less likely to splash water onto the cheesecake or inside the aluminum foil. I reuse the aluminum foil for several future cheesecakes, adding a couple of layers to it each time just to be safe.

Even if you choose not to use the bain marie method, wrapping the spring form pan with a few layers of foil, really helps to buffer the heat and help the cheesecake bake more evenly.

For the lemon cookie base. (A graham wafer crumb base is easily substituted if you prefer.)

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup icing sugar (powdered sugar)
  • small pinch salt
  • 1/2 cup cold butter, cut in cubes
  • 1 tsp lemon extract
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 tsp lemon zest , finely minced

Sift together the flour, icing sugar and salt. Mix in the lemon zest . Set aside.

Rub the butter into the dry ingredients with your fingers until it is well incorporated and the mixture becomes crumbly, like a coarse meal

Whisk together the egg yolk and lemon extract Add to the crumbly dry mixture and mix in until a soft dough forms.

Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least a half hour.

Press evenly into the bottom of a parchment paper lined 9 or 10 inch spring form pan. Dipping your fingers into flour helps if the dough is too sticky. Bake at 350 degrees F for 25-30 minutes. Let cool for 15-20 minutes before adding the cheesecake batter.

Lemon mousse cheesecake batter

Cream together:
  • 3 eight ounce packages ounces cream cheese
  • 1 cup sugar

Add, one at a time
  • 3 eggs

beating well after each addition. Add
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp lemon extract

Finally blend in
  • 1 cup whipping cream, whipped to soft peaks
  • zest of one large lemon, finely minced

Pour over the prepared and cooled base and bake in a bain marie at 300 degrees F for about 1 hour  and 15 minutes. The cheesecake does not have to brown at all in order to be fully baked; the surface of the cheesecake should lose any shine when the cake is properly baked. It can still be slightly wobbly just at the center at this point.

Remove the cake from the oven and run a sharp knife completely around the edge of the pan. This will allow for the cheesecake to shrink as it cools and hopefully not crack (but who cares if it does? I am never bothered by a crack or two in the surface) Allow the cheesecake to cool thoroughly on a wire rack at room temperature for an hour or so before cooling it completely for a few hours or overnight in the fridge. 

Lemon Curd

In a small saucepan combine:

  • 4 lightly beaten egg yolks
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • zest of half a lemon, finely minced
  • 1/3 cup butter cut into small pieces

Cook all ingredients except butter together slowly over medium low heat for about 10 minutes stirring constantly until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Remove from heat and stir in the butter a few pieces at a time until completely smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and chill completely in the fridge. Spread evenly on top of the chilled cheesecake and garnish with candied lemon zest.

Candied lemon zest

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup water
  • zest and juice of one large lemon 
  • additional sugar (about a cup)

Remove the zest of the lemon in large pieces using a sharp vegetable peeler. You want to avoid using too much of the pithy white layer.

Add tot he saucepan along with the 1 cup of sugar,  water and lemon juice.  Simmer very slowly for 15 minutes, then remove the candied zest from the syrup and let it drain on a wire rack.

When drained cut it into thin strips and toss it in the additional sugar. Let sit for a half hour or longer before using as a garnish.

Note: This candied zest can be stored in the sugar for several weeks in a mason jar. 

Don't throw out the sugar. Use it to make lemon shortbread cookies or when making lemon pound cake. 

The syrup can also be stored for a couple of weeks. Use it to brush on a lemon pound cake or even as a delicious substitute for maple syrup on blueberry pancakes. 

Ultimate Lemon Mousse Cheesecake
Ultimate Lemon Mousse Cheesecake

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