Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Lime Cheese Cake

We all love cheesecake at our house. In fact, cheesecake was our wedding cake when Mr. Mimi and I tied the knot more than 25 years ago. Back in the day, bakeries were not making wedding cheesecake, so I made the layers and my talented sister decorated the cake. Even now, after all those years, our love (for cheesecake) has not diminished. If you looking for a bit o' green for your St. Patrick's Day menu, this would be the perfect way to end the meal. 

This cheesecake has three components- the crust, the cake itself, and the lime curd. It is light, sweet and creamy, and the lime curd on top gives a nice, citrusy tang. The basic recipe for this cheesecake is from Cook's Illustrated, but I made a few changes and my version appears below. We liked that it was a smooth and creamy filling, but it was still light, instead of being heavy and dense. I started with a shortbread crust but you could easily use graham crackers, vanilla wafers or your favorite butter cookie for the crust.

Lime Cheese Cake
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 cup flour
pinch of salt

Mix together, in a food processor until crumbly and press into the bottom of a 9 inch springform pan. Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool on a wire rack. When cool, wrap the outside of the pan in aluminum foil.  It needs to be water tight so make sure the foil comes up over the top edge of the pan. If you have to use more than one piece of foil, duck tape works great to seal the over lap.I simply wrap a piece of duck tape around the entire outside of the pan that way water can not seep in between the pieces of foil.

1 1/2 lb (24oz) cream cheese
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 tablespoon lime zest
1/4 cup lime juice
4 eggs
2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup heavy cream

Rub the lime zest in to the sugar until well incorporated. In the bowl of a mixer, with the paddle attachment, beat cream cheese to smooth out.  With mixer running, gradually add sugar and beat until completely smooth. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add lime juice, vanilla, and salt, mix to incorporate.  Add the cream and mix until incorporated. Pour into prepared crust. Place a larger pan (like a roasting pan) that will hold your cheesecake pan on the middle rack of the oven. Place cheesecake pan in the larger pan and fill larger pan with  hot water, coming half way up the sides of the cheesecake pan. Bake in 325 degree oven for about 1 hour.  Temperature in the center of the cake should be  150 degrees on an instant read thermometer. Turn oven off and let cheesecake remain in the oven, with the door ajar for 1 hour. Remove pan from water bath and foil covering and allow to cool on a wire rack, at room temperature for about 2 hours.  While cheesecake is baking make lime curd.

Lime Curd:
1/3 cup lime juice*
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 tablespoon unsalted butter, cold
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
a pinch of salt

Heat lime juice in the microwave or in a small pan over medium heat until hot. In a non reactive sauce pan whisk eggs and sugar until light and lemon colored.  Whisking constantly, slowly add the hot lime juice to the eggs. Place pan over medium heat and cook stirring continuously until the mixture is thick and coats the back of a spoon (170 degrees). Remove from heat and stir in cold butter, mix until incorporated; stir in cream, vanilla and salt. Pour curd through a fine mesh strainer into a small bowl. Cover surface directly with plastic wrap refrigerate until needed.

*You can easily change this to another flavor, like lemon or orange, by using that type of juice.
When cheesecake is cooled and still in the pan, spread lime curd evenly on the top of the cake. Cover pan tightly and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. Run a butter knife around the inside of the pan to loosen the cake, remove sides of the pan and serve.