Creamy dreamy personal NY Cheesecakes with Lemon and Orange Zest

personal cheesecakes4

This week my fantastic husband has agreed to donate his amazing NY cheesecake recipe to the blog, for the good of all men. No seriously, it’s that good. Disclaimer: There are tons of wonderful, elaborate, complicated, and heavily sugared cheesecake recipes out there on all sorts of blogs, this is not one of them. If I had to describe it in just a few words I’d say it was light, fluffy, creamy, yes, dreamy, and really just simply good. It does what I think a cheesecake is supposed to do, deliver a few delicate tastes and textures without hitting you over the head with sugar and fat, food coloring, or candy accoutrements. That isn’t to say this is a low fat dessert by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s straightforward and delicious, without piling 2,000 extra calories on top.

So G set out to find the perfect cheesecake recipe, but he knew it wasn’t going to be easy. He rifled through tons of recipes, searching for the right creaminess, the right texture, something that wasn’t too eggy, too sugary sweet, too soft, too dry, or too bland. Eventually, he found this one, and after testing and editing it a few times, found the perfect recipe and ratios for personal cheesecakes.

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Now this will make a whole bunch of personal ones, check out the link for baking times and amounts for a single much larger cake that is slightly different.

Ingredients: (about 20 servings)

CRUST:

  • 85g (or 1/3 cup) butter, melted and browned
  • 140g (about 30) crushed caramelized cookies (you know the small individually wrapped Lotus type ones that go with coffee… they have SO much flavor and make an amazing crust)

CHEESECAKE FILLING:

  • 500g (2 cups plus a tablespoon) cream cheese softened to room temperature (fresh if you can get it)
  • 250g (1.11 cups) golden caster sugar (sugar that has been food processed until it is super-fine but not powdered)
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1  teaspoon fresh orange zest
  • 1  teaspoon fresh lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 large eggs, room temp, plus 1 yolk
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • a pinch of salt (about 1/8 teaspoon)

NON FOOD SUPPLIES:

  • 2 large cookie trays with raised edges
  • 20 cake or biscuit baking cups, I got mine at IKEA (they are flatter and wider than the regular cupcake cups, and are also great for biscuits)
  • a food processor (optional, but it takes off a few minutes of your time)

Method: (preheat oven to 320F or 160C with fan (FOR THE CRUST), and arrange 10 baking cups on the baking tray)

1)  First brown the butter for the crust over medium heat, melting and stirring in a pot for a few minutes until it starts to brown. Do not burn! If you aren’t sure, err on the side of caution. As soon as you smell that rich aroma of browned butter, you can take it off the heat. Put it aside to cool for 3-5 minutes. While the butter is cooling, pulse the cookies in a food processor until you have an even crumb, then mix together with the cool browned butter, and press a thin even layer into the bottoms of 10 cups on each tray, 20 cups total.

2) Bake the first tray of crusts for 5 minutes in the middle of the oven at 160C with fan. (If you don’t have this option, bake at 180C but watch them carefully) then remove and COOL ON THE PAN, do not try to move them now, they need to harden. Bake the second tray now, and then cool.

3) After all crusts are baked, adjust the oven to 200C with fan (240C conventional). To prepare the filling, beat the cheese until soft and fluffy, then add sugar, flour, and salt, and beat for 1-2 minutes. (if you have a mixer great, if not, do this by hand, it’s easy). When evenly mixed, add the vanilla, lemon zest, orange zest, and lemon juice and mix. Whisk in the eggs and the yolk, one at a time, then mix up your sour cream so there is no water and add it to the batter. Just blend it in, do not over mix. It should be light and fluffy, not thick and heavy.

4) Carefully measure about 1/4 to 1/3 cup of batter into each cup, you should use about half of the batter for 10 cups.

5) Bake ONE TRAY AT A TIME, for 5 minutes at 200C with fan, then drop temperature to 90C with fan for an extra 5-7 minutes, watching all the time. Remove and cool, leaving them on the tray. (You can see here why it’s G’s recipe, and not mine, I don’t have the patience to cook in batches and at different temperatures, watching all the time, but it really was worth it in this case).

6) You are supposed to turn off the oven here and leave the cheesecakes inside for a while with the door open so they don’t crack, but if you take them out now, they wont dry out but they will crack. We prefer them creamy, and you can always top them to hide the cracks anyway, so remove the first tray, raise up the temperature to 200C again with fan, and bake the second batch for 5 minutes, then reduce temperature to 90C with fan and bake for another 5-7 minutes, watching all the time. Remove tray from oven immediately and cool for creamier texture, or leave these in with the OVEN OFF and the door open for about 10 minutes for cosmetically prettier but slightly drier cheesecakes.

Personal Cheesecakes

7) Once they are cool, you can top them if you like, but I think they are amazing on their own, and any sweet topping would take away from them, drowning out the complex interplay of the brown butter cookie crust with the orange and lemon zest studded cream cheese filling.

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