Strawberry & Candied Lemon Cheesecake |

RECIPE: Candied Lemon & Strawberry Cheesecake

Greek yogurt replaces sour cream in this light, airy cheesecake while the strawberries and candied lemons bring a welcomed brightness to each bite.



    • 1/4 cup slivered, blanched almonds
    • 3/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted
    • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 8 ounces unsalted butter
    • 2 large egg yolks
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

    *Makes two 10-inch tart crusts

    Candied Lemon

    • 2 lemons, sliced very thin
    • 2 cups sugar
    • 2 cups water 

    Cheesecake Filling

    • 1/4 cup diced strawberries
    • 1/2 tablespoon flour
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 4 oz Greek yogurt
    • 32 oz cream cheese
    • 3 eggs
    • 2 egg whites 
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    • 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice

    Cookie Dough Tart Crust |

    Cookie Dough Tart Crust

    Prep: 5 minutes     Cook: 12 - 15 minutes            

    Chill: 2 hours - 1 day     Total: 17 - 20 minutes

    As with the pastry crust on the Bourbon Peach Tart, this recipe is from bake! Essential Techniques for Perfect Baking by Nick Magieri. While in the original recipe, the almonds are optional, I highly recommend their use especially with fruity flavors like our lovely, bright cheesecake. For tart crusts and pie doughs, it's v important to use cold butter.

    In a food processor or grinder, pulse almonds into fine crumbs. Add flour, powdered sugar, and salt and pulse quickly to combine. Cut butter into small, even cubes and drop into food processor. Pulse until the mixture is the consistency of fine sand, as in the photo. You can also do this process by hand, which is my typical preference. With the added nuts, however, I appreciate the aid of the food processor.

    After you have reached the desired consistency, add eggs one at a time, pulsing between each addition. Add vanilla extract and pulse. You want to avoid overworking the dough here, both to keep the dough soft and to prevent the butter from melting (cardinal sin when making crusts). Remove the dough from food processor, divide into two equal discs, wrap well, and refrigerate for at least one hour before use. If you won't have an immediate use for the second disc, toss in the freezer where it will keep well for six months. Before use, remove from freezer and let thaw either at room temperature for same day use or overnight for next day.

    After chilling, roll the cookie dough crust into a circle big enough to fit your springform pan. The crust should go up the pan about 1/8-inch so that when the crust shrinks in the oven, you won't risk losing any of your filling. Chill the dough in the pan for at least an hour before baking.

    Candied Lemon |

    Candied Lemon

    Prep: 10 minutes     Cook: 2 hours 

    Total: 2 hours + 10 minutes

    Lemons are fantastic. They make almost everything better. Sauces, meat, desserts, drinks. Candied lemons are divine. If not overcooked or oversugared, they retain just enough of their bite to balance sweet treats. And the process, while a bit time consuming, is simple.

    To begin, prepare an ice bath in a medium bowl. Slice lemons into thin circles. Typically, you'd want all lemons to be paper thin. For the purposes of decorating the cheesecake, you'll need slices about 1/4-inch thick (the lemons serve to prop the thin strawberry slices up, giving a nice 3D lift to the strawberry flower design). 

    Bring a saucepan of water to a boil and add lemon slices. Cook in boiling water for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the slices have begun to soften. Once soft, remove immediately from water and submerge in ice bath.

    Bring 2 cups of water and 2 cups of sugar to a boil in a saucepan. When water is at a full boil and all the sugar has dissolved, add lemon slices in a single layer and lower heat to medium low or low. The water should simmer, but not boil. Simmer lemons in sugar water for 1 hour to 1 hour and 30 minutes, until lemon rinds have begun to be transparent.

    Candied Lemon & Strawberry Cheesecake |

    Cheesecake Filling

    Prep: 25 - 30 minutes     Flash Bake: 10 - 15 minutes

    Bake: 45 - 55 minutes     Chill: 4 hours - overnight 

    Preheat the oven to 325.

    In a medium bowl, add 4 ounces of Greek yogurt with 8 ounces of cream cheese. I am a brand snob when it comes to Greek yogurt and only use Total Fage, the full fat, full Greek, real deal shit. No Dannon. Fage. All the way. I do have a reason for this. I love Greek yogurt. I had never had it until I studied abroad in Greece where the yogurt is a staple not only for breakfast, but in many dishes and sauces. It was love at first taste. When I got back, I couldn't find the Greek yogurt I'd so fell in love with until about a year later when it became an It Food. (I know I sound like an asshole. But don't tell me you don't have something in your life that you loved before everyone else. And then everyone else fucking ruined it.) And then came the knock offs. And I have reason for hating them. Rather than make traditional Greek yogurt, many of these companies use thickeners and milk concentrates to reach the lovely, thick texture that Fage has without the added shit (take it front NPR). Onto the recipe.

    Mix Greek yogurt and cream cheese until well combined and smooth. Add lemon juice and vanilla extract to mixture and set aside. In a large bowl, cream remaining cream cheese with sugar on medium speed until smooth. Add one egg and mix on low speed until combined, about 30 seconds. Continue this, adding egg and additional egg whites one at a time, until all eggs have been added to the mixture. Add the Greek yogurt and lemon mixture to the cream cheese mixture and combine until there are no lumps. 

    In a small bowl, lightly coat diced strawberries with flour and add to the cheesecake filling. The flour will prevent the cheesecake from sinking in the mixture, but it really doesn't take much because the cheesecake batter is thick. The strawberries don't retain their full flavor, but they add a beautiful color to the cheesecake and the flavor comes through perfectly with the fresh berries on top. 

    Remove springform pan from refrigerator. I like to wrap the bottom of my pan in two layers of aluminum foil to prevent any leakage. It's a precautionary measure that helps me with my anxiety, you are welcome to the risk of no aluminum foil. Pierce the crust with a fork in one-inch intervals and place in preheated oven for 10 to 15 minutes to flash bake the crust.

    While the crust is in the oven, prepare a roasting pan large enough to fit your springform pan. Boil water for a relaxing, cheesecake water bath. Once the crust has baked, remove from the oven, butter the sides of the pan (please do this! It will keep your cheesecake from sticking to the sides, and that means your cheesecake will have a better chance of not cracking!), and pour the filling into the pan. Place the springform pan into the roasting pan, place on the middle rack of your 325 oven, and carefully add the boiling water to the roasting pan. Your water should come no higher than the middle of the springform pan. This is a gentler way of cooking the cheesecake and is the best way to prevent the cheesecake from cracking down the middle and over baking on the sides.

    Bake for 45 to 55 minutes. Mine was finished after 45 minutes in the oven. The cheesecake is finished when the sides are set, but the middle has a small jiggle. When you remove from the oven, please be careful of the water. I usually lift the pan itself out of the water rather than attempting to move the roasting pan full of boiling water (which is pretty heavy) and let the water cool before moving it from the oven. 

    Once removed, immediately run a small, thin knife around the edges of the cheesecake to release from the sides of the pan (another measure against cracking). Wrap loosely in plastic and refrigerate.  

    Candied Lemon & Strawberry Cheesecake |

    Strawberry Flower

    Prep & Design: 15 - 20 minutes 

    This is a stunning design that is so simple! Honestly, the hardest part of this design is cutting into it.

    To begin, you'll need 1 pound of washed strawberries and 2 candied lemons. Slice the strawberries paper thin to create the illusion of flower petals. This is done by first coring the strawberry, then placing the strawberry on its largest end (where the leaves would have been) and cutting from the outside edges toward the center. Once you've finished slicing the strawberries, you'll need to half the candied lemons. Then, you can begin the decorating.

    First, line the edge of the cheesecake with candied lemons, making sure the arc of the lemon half is facing away from the center of the cake, as in the picture. Your next two circles will be strawberries. For the first strawberry circle, lay the strawberries over top of the lemons, giving the slices a lift from the cheesecake. The second strawberry circle will overlap the first. Next, add another circle of candied lemons. These should be close together and leave a small hole at the center to build the strawberry flower. I began in the center of the flower, using my smallest pieces of strawberry to create a bud at the center. To support the bud, I stood slightly larger (but still small pieces) of strawberry around the bud, making sure to overlap these pieces and move outward. As you add more strawberry slices, they will support each other and become easier. The lemon slices will provide the last needed support to keep the floral shape.