What are you doing this Valentine’s Day? I think Mr. Spatula and I are going to stay in and cook up something tasty. It’s a little different from our usual tradition which consists of going out to a good restaurant and eating delicious food while people-watching other couples. I’d like to think that while many restaurants are no-gos for many of us, that we are all enjoying a delicious meal with our loved ones. Because breaking bread together is always one of the best ways to share love.
This cheesecake bar really is a marriage of a lemon bar with the hint of lemon and the shortbread crust and a creme brûlée cheesecake. The sugar torched topping is not an option. It really gives it the perfect crisp shell for a dessert that is fitting for Valentine’s day. I used Meyer lemons because they’re in season and they’re less intense than lemons. But if you can’t get your hands on Meyer lemons, please feel free to use regular lemons. Just expect a more lemon-y punch. 🙂
Meyer Lemon Creme Brûlée Cheesecake Makes about 12 servings, pending on how you large you make your squares
For the crust: 8 tbsp. (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temp. ½ c. (100 g.) sugar 1 tbsp. Meyer lemon zest (be careful to not grate the pith of the lemon – the white part) ½ tsp. vanilla extract 1 c. (120 g.) all purpose-flour ¼ tsp. kosher salt
For the filling: 8 oz. (1 box) cream cheese, softened 14 oz. sweetened condensed milk 1 egg, large, room temp. 1 tbsp. Meyer lemon zest (be careful to not grate the pith of the lemon – the white part) ⅓ c. Meyer lemon juice a pinch of kosher salt
For the burnt sugar crust: Granulated sugar, as needed (if you have caster sugar, this is the time to use it)
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and line an 8×8 inch baking pan with parchment paper. (This will make it much easier to remove the cheesecake.)
In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter, sugar, lemon zest and vanilla on medium speed until well combined.
Switch the mixer speed to low and in the flour and salt, mixing until just combined.
Press the dough into the prepared baking pan, trying to get it as even of a layer as possible.
Refrigerate the baking pan with the dough while you prepare the cheesecake layer.
In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in another bowl using a handheld mixer), mix the cream cheese on medium speed until smooth. Scrape down the sides.
Add the sweetened condensed milk, mix on medium speed and scrape down the sides again.
Add the egg, lemon zest and juice and mix on medium-low speed, scrape down the sides and mix again until homogenous.
Remove the pan from the fridge, pour in the cheesecake filling and bake in the oven for about 20-25 minutes, or until the filling does not jiggle when you lightly shimmy the pan.
Remove cheesecake from the oven, and let cool completely.
Refrigerate cheesecake until firm.
Cut the cheesecake into the number of slices that you want.
Sprinkle sugar over the cheesecake evenly, and use your kitchen torch to heat the tops of the cheesecake until amber – a spotted dark brown. (If you don’t have a kitchen torch, you can apparently do this under a broiler. But I’ve never tried and would advise that you keep a close eye on the caramelizing sugar.)
Oh, hello. It’s been a while. It’s been a whirlwind of a month since my last post. During the time I was away, I made a wedding cake, 200 cupcakes and threw an engagement party for my brother. There was a dessert bar, which I’ve wanted to do forever and a beautiful mini cake filled with flowers. I need to share photos with you guys asap as possible (<=the office). I almost called this soup, a shepherd’s pie French onion soup because of the mashed potato. But, as shepherd’s pie usually has beef and this does not, I felt like I would be misleading you. It has a ring of mashed potato that floats around the crouton, like a delicious moat around a castle of bread and cheese. The mashed potatoes meld into the soup once you dig into it giving it a velvety finish similar to potato soup. I didn’t even plan on making it this way until I realized that I had some mashed potatoes left over from dinner the other night and thought that it was a great way to use up the rest of it. Because in the world of food math: potatoes + onions = winning. But really, you don’t have to go out of your way to make mashed potatoes because even without it, it’s a pretty darn awesome French onion soup. I know it’s customary to put either gruyère or mozzarella on top of French onion soup, but I had some sliced Muenster cheese in my fridge and it melted beautifully. Insert heart eyes emoji . P.S. I have this really awesome Christmas cake coming your way. Like my-mind-can’t-handle-it-cute. I can’t wait to share it with you as soon as I put it together. Hopefully, by next week!
French Onion Mashed Potato Soup
Makes about 2-3 servings
4 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 large onions, sliced thin
1 garlic clove, minced
1 bay leaf
1 thyme sprig
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
½ c. red wine
1 ½ tbsp. flour
1 qt. beef broth
1 baguette, sliced
2 slices muenster cheese
mashed potatoes (recipe below)
In a medium pot over medium heat, melt butter. Add the onions, garlic, bay leaf, thyme, salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat until onions are caramelized, about 30 minutes.
Add the wine and cook until the wine evaporates and the onions are dry.
Discard the bay leaf and thyme spring. Stir in flour.
Cook the flour over low heat for about 2-3 minutes (do not burn the flour).
Slowly add in the beef broth while stirring.
Simmer the soup for about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper if needed.
Preheat your broiler. Fill your soup bowl or crock bowls with the soup.
Place a large baguette slice in the center of the soup.
Fill a piping bag fitted with large frosting tip with the mashed potato. (I used one with a lot of teeth hoping that it would make a pretty presentation with the toasted edges, but once the cheese covered it, it didn’t matter. So, any large cake tip will work.)
Pipe around the floating slice of baguette.
Place a slice of cheese on each bowl and broil until the cheese gets nice and toasty.
Creamy Mashed Potatoes
2 lbs. Yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed
1 stick butter, melted
1 c. heavy cream, divided
about ½ c. low-sodium chicken stock
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Place potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water. Bring to boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook potatoes until tender and easily pierced with a fork.
Drain and peel potatoes under cool running water.
Pass potatoes through a ricer into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.
Add the melted butter and half of cream.
Whip on low speed until cream and butter are incorporated. Move to a higher speed and whip until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute.
Adjust the taste and consistency with more heavy cream or chicken stock.