Lemon Meringue Cheesecake

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RECIPE: There’s been a run of cheesecakes in my kitchen because the price of cream cheese was reduced. I liked the look of this recipe because it used a cooked meringue as a topping, which I haven’t tried before. I didn’t alter the recipe.

PREPARATION: I mixed the base and pressed it into my pan lined with a silicone liner and foil on the sides. The base was still warm when I added the cheesecake mix, which is straightforward if you follow the recipe. This was put straight back into the oven to bake. I forgot to do the tray with water, but it didn’t seem to affect the end result. I left the cheesecake to cool in the oven – I think this stops the surface cracking from cooling too fast. Once cool it went into the fridge overnight. The meringue was a little trickier. The recipe says to use the bowl of a stand mixer and mine has a very heavy base, which I think caused the meringue mix to take much longer than it was meant to to get to temperature. In fact, I gave up at 63 degrees Celsius because I was tired of waiting for it to get to 70 C. The meringue doesn’t take too long to cool once you have the mixture beating and it was very easy to spread creatively and torch.

IMPRESSION: I had gone off baked cheesecakes, but the last few I’ve made have been wonderful – not dry at all. I was really happy with how it looked, but the meringue was a bit gritty, I suspect because either I took too long to get it up to heat, or because I didn’t quite get it to the correct temperature. Despite this, the cheesecake and the meringue were delicious.

Recipe from Butter and Brioche

Lemon Meringue Mascarpone Cheesecake

Base:
115 g digestive biscuits, finely crushed
40 g almond meal
¼ teaspoon salt
55 g unsalted butter, melted

Pre-heat the oven to 180 c (350 f). Grease and line a 20 cm (8 inch) springform cake pan with non-stick parchment paper. Cover the sides of the pan with a layer of aluminum foil. Set aside.

In a medium sized mixing bowl, stir together the digestive biscuits, almond meal and salt. Add in the melted butter and stir until everything is evenly moistened. Tip the mixture into the base of the prepared cake pan and gently press it into a thin and even layer. Bake for 10 minutes, or until fragrant and just beginning to turn golden brown. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

Immediately lower the oven temperature to 120 c (250 f). Fill a deep-dish roasting pan with a few inches of water. Place it in the bottom or the lowest shelf of the oven.

Filling:
500 g cream cheese, at room temperature
250 g mascarpone, at room temperature
160 g granulated sugar
3 large eggs
100 ml lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1 teaspoon vanilla bean extract
zest from ½ small lemon
¼ teaspoon salt

To make the filling, add the cream cheese to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the beater attachment. Beat on medium speed, until smooth and malleable, about 3 minutes. Pause mixing and scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl. Add in the mascarpone and sugar. Beat until well incorporated and fluffy, 2 more minutes. Add in the eggs, one at a time, making sure to beat well after each addition. Beat in the lemon juice, vanilla bean extract, zest and salt until very smooth, light, and well combined, 4 more minutes. Pour the filling over the cooled crust and use an offset spatula or the back of a metal spoon to smooth out the top.

Bake the cheesecake for about 1 ½ hours. The cheesecake is ready when it is firm around the edges and just firm in the middle but with a slight jiggle to it. Turn off the heat and pry open the oven door. Let the cheesecake cool in the partially opened oven until it reaches room temperature, about an hour. Do not unmold the cheesecake from its pan. When it’s at room temperature, place it in the refrigerator to chill for at least 6 hours, or preferably, overnight, before topping with the meringue and serving.

Meringue:
80 g egg whites, at room temperature
180 g granulated sugar
Zest from ½ small lemon

To make the meringue, put the egg whites and sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer set over a saucepan of barely simmering water. Do not let the base of the bowl touch the water. Heat the mixture, stirring often, until it reaches 70 c (160 f) on a candy thermometer.

Once at temperature, remove the bowl from the heat and place it onto a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk, on medium-high speed, until the mixture forms that of stiff and glossy peaks, about 6 to 8 minutes. The bowl should be cool to the touch and all the steam will have escaped the meringue. Pause mixing and add in the lemon zest. Whisk for a further 30 seconds until combined. Set the bowl aside.

Remove the cheesecake from the pan and set it out and onto a serving plate. Spread the meringue over the top of the cheesecake in a swoop and swirl motion using the back of a metal spoon or an offset palette knife. Then, using a kitchen blow torch, carefully toast the top of the meringue. If you’re using a broiler, place it under the broiler until the meringue is evenly browned, about 2 minutes. Keep the cheesecake chilled until you’re ready to slice and serve.

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