Meyer Lemon Creme Brûlée Cheesecake

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. 🙂

Left: Before Torching | Right: After Torching

Meyer Lemon Creme Brûlée Cheesecake
Makes about 12 servings, pending on how you large you make your squares

Ingredients:

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)

Instructions:

  1. 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.)
  2. 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.
  3. Switch the mixer speed to low and in the flour and salt, mixing until just combined. 
  4. Press the dough into the prepared baking pan, trying to get it as even of a layer as possible. 
  5. Refrigerate the baking pan with the dough while you prepare the cheesecake layer.
  6. 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. 
  7. Add the sweetened condensed milk, mix on medium speed and scrape down the sides again.
  8. Add the egg, lemon zest and juice and mix on medium-low speed, scrape down the sides and mix again until homogenous. 
  9. 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. 
  10. Remove cheesecake from the oven, and let cool completely.
  11. Refrigerate cheesecake until firm. 
  12. Cut the cheesecake into the number of slices that you want. 
  13. 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.) 

Recipe adapted from Lauren’s Latest

Pumpkin Crème Brulee

pumpkin creme brulee 3My favorite holiday EVER is Thanksgiving. Christmas is a close second. My argument for Thanksgiving trumping Christmas is that it is all about family time. No holiday shopping stress, crazy decorations, party obligations or unhappy people not getting what they wanted, it’s all about spending time together and relaxing and eating. I honestly think sharing a meal brings people closer together and the Thanksgiving table is a prime example. Perfectly roasted turkey, savory stuffing, crisp salads, fluffy mashed potatoes, tangy cranberry sauce and luscious gravy come together for the perfect meal. But after that perfect meal comes the pans of pumpkin, pecan and apple pies, there is probably something with chocolate on the table (because what kind of dessert menu lacks chocolate) and this pumpkin crème brulee.
egg yolkspumpkin creme brulee 4Something about crème brulee makes everyone happy. It’s sophisticated enough for the adults but is also kid-friendly because it’s pretty much a fancy pudding cup. I love the contrast of the crisp crunch of the caramelized sugar and the perfectly smooth custard. Plus that ever so slightly bitter burnt taste of the sugar pairs well with the sweetness underneath. pumpkin creme brulee 2pumpkin creme brulee 6I’ve made this recipe two Thanksgivings in a row because it’s so good, like people-are-scraping-the-bottom-of-the-ramekin good. It’s super easy but it always has that “oo la la” factor when it shows up on the table. Plus, you make it a day before so it’s one less thing you have to worry about. You just sprinkle the top with sugar and torch it before serving. I know that it’s proper for the caramelized sugar layer to be thin, but I like mine extra thick so that I get more substantial shards of sugar in my crème brulee.
pumpkin creme bruleePumpkin Crème Brulee

Ingredients:
1 ½ c. heavy cream
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. nutmeg, freshly grated
5 egg yolks
½ c. sugar, plus extra for torching
¾ c. pumpkin puree
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Instructions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Boil a kettle full of water for the water bath.
2. In a medium pot, heat heavy cream, cinnamon and nutmeg together until it simmers.
3. In a separate bowl, mix egg yolks and ½ c. sugar until combined.
4. Slowly stream a ladleful of heavy cream mixture into the egg yolks, while whisking the egg yolks to avoid curdling your egg mixture.
5. Continue to slowly add the rest of the heavy cream mixture to the egg yolk mixture until completely mixed.
6. Strain mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a separate bowl.
7. Whisk in pumpkin puree and vanilla into the custard mixture.
8. In a large roasting or baking pan, arrange five 7 oz. ramekins. Split the custard mixture evenly amongst the ramekins.
9. Place the pan into the oven and pour hot water into the baking pan until it comes at least half way up the ramekins. Avoid getting water into the ramekins.
10. Bake about 30-40 minutes until the center of the custard is just set. You will know this when you jiggle the ramekin and the custard jiggles just in the center.
11. Remove the ramekins from the water bath and let cool and cover with plastic wrap before refrigerating the ramekins for at least 4 hours or overnight.
12. When ready to serve, remove ramekins from the fridge and add a spoonful of sugar in to the ramekin, rotating it for even coverage. Use a butane torch to caramelize the sugar until dark brown and even. Serve immediately.


Recipe adapted from Use Real Butter.