Cheesecake has always been one of my favorite desserts. Growing up, instead of brightly-colored frosted birthday cakes, I asked my mom for cheesecake. I typically requested a chocolate marbled one I found beautifully depicted in a tiny Hershey magazine. Each March, we would eat grilled chicken, artichokes, and cheesecake. Yes, I was a strange child.
When I got married, I wanted to continue the traditional, so for Brandon’s and my birthdays—they are three days apart—I tried my own hand at the marbled chocolate cheesecake, and while it was delicious, it cracked. I tried again using a new recipe a few years later, and, again, it cracked.
A cracked cheesecake is still a tasty cheesecake, but for a perfectionist like me, that dang crack drove me crazy. I tried baking the cake at a lower temperature. Crack. I tried leaving the cake in the oven with the door ajar to cool. Crack. Every stinking time.
Recently, I had the hankering for cheesecake, but this time, I chose to substitute my dear chocolate with a tangy lemon curd. The tart lemon somehow made the rich, ultra-creamy cheesecake refreshing, and now, I have a new favorite cheesecake.
And in the end, this cheesecake was beautiful. White with vibrant streaks of yellow and . . . a deep crack in the middle . . . oh well. I’ve learned, if this happens, just cover any “flaws” with blueberries. They become even tastier.
Lemon Curd Marbled Cheesecake
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest, finely grated
- 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
- 1 1/3 cups finely ground graham cracker crumbs (these can be purchased as crumbs, or you can pulverize graham crackers in the food processor)
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 3 (8-oz) packages cream cheese, softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 3/4 cup sour cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
Making the lemon curd:
Whisk the zest, juice, sugar, and eggs in a heavy saucepan. Slowly add the pieces of butter and cook over medium-low heat. Whisk continuously. When you see that the curd holds the marks of the whisk, and when the first bubbles appear on the surface, pull the curd from the heat. This should take about 6-10 minutes. Don’t take it too far, or the eggs could scramble.
Push the curd through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl (don’t forget to scrape the bottom of the sieve). Then cover the surface of the curd with wax paper (paper should be touching the curd to keep a skin from forming). Cool completely—stirring once in awhile—approximately 30 minutes.
Making the crust:
Position your oven rack in the middle position. Preheat oven to 350°F. Place all crust ingredients in a food processor and pulse until all crumbs are moist. Press the crumb mixture onto the bottom of a springform pan so it firmly covers the bottom of the pan and climbs one inch up the sides. Place the pan on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, then remove from the oven and cool crust completely in springform pan on a rack.
Making the filling and baking the cake:
Reduce oven temperature to 300°F.
Place cream cheese and sugar in a bowl and beat with an electric mixer at medium speed until very smooth. Reduce speed to low and add eggs one at a time, beating until incorporated. Add sour cream and vanilla, and beat until combined.
Pour two-thirds of cream cheese filling into the cooled crust, then spoon half of the lemon curd over filling and swirl curd into filling with a small knife—avoiding touching the crust with the knife (or crumbs might be seen in the filling). Do the same with the remaining filling and curd.
Bake the cheesecake until set 1 1/2 inches from edge but center trembles when pan is gently shaken—approximately 45 minutes. The cake will continue to set while it cools. Turn off the oven and, with the cake still in the oven, immediately run a knife around top edge of cake to loosen. Allow the cake to cook for an hour while sitting in the oven with the door ajar. After an hour, transfer the cake to a rack and cool completely. Once completely cooled, cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least four hours. Remove the sides of the springform pan before serving.
Serve with fresh blueberries.