Lemon Cheesecake is a bright and beautiful dessert for the spring and summer season. Each layer packs a lemon flavored punch and it goes so nice with the smooth and luscious cheesecake filling. Frosting is a simple cream cheese whipped frosting but with lemon flavor added and you can make candied lemon peels as a decoration. Lemon peels are not just a pretty decoration though, it’s a delicious lemon addition to each bite.
When the weather is warm, it’s the perfect time for all those citrus and berry desserts. Lemon flavor is one of my favorite ones to use in desserts. Sweet and sour is such a pleasing flavor combination and so refreshing. I also love the way lemon tastes when combined with creamy ingredients, like cream cheese or custard.
My vegetable crisper is usually full of lemons and I have an extra jar of lemon curd. (For the times when I’m too lazy to make my own lemon curd.) And you always want to have extra lemons and curd for those perfect Sunday morning when you have an urge to whip up some Lemon Cream pastries or Lemon Filled Donut Holes. When it’s an extra special weekend, or a holiday, it definitely calls for a cheesecake.
This gorgeous lemon cheesecake has lemon infused into the crust, the luscious cheesecake filling, and the smooth whipped cream cheese frosting. This beauty is even decorated with homemade candied lemon peels. Candied lemon peels take about an hour to make and a bit of work but it’s worth it. You can always make them ahead of time. And, for a deeper lemon flavor, you can use Mayer lemons when available.
What do I do with leftover lemons?
After making this whole cheesecake, you will have 6-7 lemons left. (Could be more if you want to make some extra lemon peels.) There are a few recipes where you can use leftover lemons and none will go to waste. You can make homemade lemonade, homemade sweet and sour mix, and homemade margarita mix.
Homemade Lemonade – for my lemonade recipe, I mix one part sugar, 1 part hot water (to mix with sugar and melt into simple syrup), and 1 part lemon juice together. Then, I add about 2 cups of cold water to the mixture.
Homemade Sour Mix – for homemade sour mix, I mix 1 part of sugar, 1 part of hot water (to mix with sugar and melt into simple syrup), 1 part lemon juice, and 1 part lime juice.
HOW TO MAKE LEMON CHEESECAKE
About 30-45 minutes before preparing the cheesecake, make sure to pull out the cream cheese and eggs and let them get to room temperature on the counter. (Take the cream cheese out of the cardboard package but not out of the aluminum one.)
I always recommend wrapping the springform pan in heavy duty aluminum foil on the outside. This prevent the water from leaking into the pan. There is not a lot of water than can get in but this will block most of it out. Of course, there is a small chance that a little bit of water will still get in but it will not ruin the cheesecake.
Simply mix all ingredients for the crust until completely incorporated. Spray the inside of the springform with cooking spray and spread the crust mixture all over the bottom. Pat it down either with a bottom of a measuring cup of your hand. (Make sure both are clean before patting down the crust.)
Beat softened cream cheese for a couple of minutes on medium-high speed until smooth and fluffy. Pour in sugar and then add eggs one at a time. Beat everything until smooth and then add in heavy whipping cream, sour cream, and extracts. Scrape sides a bottom of the bowl and then beat it a little more to incorporate.
Lower the speed and beat in cornstarch and lemon zest. Scrape sides and bottom of the bowl and mix for a few more seconds to make sure everything is evenly mixed. Transfer batter into the springform and spread in evenly.
Preheat oven to 325°.
Place a large roasting pan into the oven and place cheesecake springform inside the roasting pan. Carefully pour hot water to the roasting pan, about half way up the side of the springform.
Bake for 85-90 minutes. Turn off the oven and open the oven door half way. Let cheesecake rest for 10 minutes and take it out of the oven. Take the foil wrap off the pan.
Let it rest for 10 minutes on the counter and then gently run a butter knife between sides of the cheesecakes and the springform to carefully separate it. (You don’t actually have to take the cheesecake out of the pan until ready to serve.)
Cool cheesecake for an hour and then cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 6 hours or overnight.
Lemon Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting:
Beat cream cheese, lemon extract, and sugar in a mixer starting on low speed and gradually increase it to medium-high. Beat it for about a minute and then slowly pour in heavy whipping cream. Continue beating until frosting is whipped into stiff peaks and waves. (It won’t take long so don’t walk away.)
Lower the speed and turn off the mixer. Add lemon zest on on the stir setting, give it just a few turns to mix.
Storing Lemon Cheesecake:
You can store frosted cheesecake in the refrigerator. (Note, that candied lemon peels will soak up moisture from the cheesecake and moisten while stored together.)
Store it in the original springform baking pan and make sure to re-wrap the pan with plastic wrap air-tight after each time you take out a slice.
Cheesecake will last up to 5 days in the refrigerator.
CAN I FREEZE THIS CHEESECAKE?
Yes, you can but make sure to freeze it WITHOUT topping or frosting. Frostings can be added after the cheesecake has been thawed.
You can freeze cheesecake right on the bottom of the springform pan or you can take it off the pan and transfer it onto an aluminum foil covered cardboard.
Once cheesecake has been cooled to room temperature, run a butter knife along the inside of the springform pan to separate the cheesecake from the pan. Place the pan with cheesecake in the freezer and freeze for about an hour.
Then, carefully take off the side portion of the springform. At this point, you can either keep the bottom of the springform with the cheesecake or transfer it onto a piece of thick cardboard cake holder covered with aluminum foil.
Wrap cheesecake with the bottom of the pan in plastic wrap, in 2-3 layers. Then, wrap the whole thing with aluminum foil. As an added protection from air, you can place the whole things in a large, zip-lock freezer bag, but that’ not necessary.
Make sure to date and label before placing cheesecake back in the freezer.
Cheesecake will keep in the freezer for 2-3 months.
To thaw frozen cheesecake, make sure to do it slowly. Place cheesecake from freezer into the refrigerator and slow-thaw overnight.
MORE CHEESECAKE RECIPES TO TRY
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- 9-inch spring form pan
- Larger roasting pan that fits the springform comfortably inside
- 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 4 tbsp butter melted
- 1 lemon - zest only
- 1/2 tsp lemon extract
- 32 oz cream cheese softened
- 1 cup white granulated sugar
- 3 eggs room temperature
- 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp lemon extract
- 2 lemon - zest only
- 8 oz cream cheese softened
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream cold
- 1/2 tsp lemon extract
- 1 lemon - zest only
- 1 cup powdered sugar
Candied Lemon Peels - takes about an hour (optional):
- 2-3 lemons - peel only
- 3/4 cup water
- 1 cup white granulated sugar
- 2 tbsp extra fine sugar for coating
- Before making the cheesecake, prepare the pan by wrapping outside of the pan in aluminum foil. Many springform pans, especially ones that have been used quite a bit, have a chance of leaking some water inside. Wrapping outside of the springform in foil will help keep water out.
- Although, there is a chance that a small amount of water will leak in, this will NOT ruin the cheesecake.
- Combine graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, lemon extract, lemon zest, and brown sugar in a mixing bowl and mix very well.
- Spray inside of the springform pan with some cooking spray, making sure you get the sides too.
- Spread crumb mixture in the bottom of the prepared springform, evenly pressing it over the bottom and a little up the sides.
- In a bowl of an electric mixer, beat cream cheese for a couple of minutes on medium-high speed, until smooth and fluffy.
- Pour in sugar while beating and add eggs, one at a time. Beat it until smooth. Stop to scrape bottom and sides of the bowl.
- Add sour cream, vanilla extract, lemon extract, and heavy whipping cream. Beat, still on medium-high speed, until all mixed very well.
- Lower the speed and beat in cornstarch and lemon zest. Scrape sides and bottom of the bowl and mix for a few more seconds to make sure everything is evenly mixed.
- Transfer batter into the springform and spread in evenly.
- Preheat oven to 325°.
- Place a large roasting pan into the oven and place cheesecake springform inside the roasting pan. Carefully pour hot water to the roasting pan, about half way up the side of the springform.
- Bake for 85-90 minutes. Turn off the oven and open the oven door half way. Let cheesecake rest for 10-15 minutes and take it out of the oven. Take the foil wrap off the pan.
- Let it rest for 10 minutes on the counter and then gently run a butter knife between sides of the cheesecakes and the springform to carefully separate it. (You don’t actually have to take the cheesecake out of the pan until ready to serve.)
- Cool cheesecake for an hour and then cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 6 hours or overnight.
- Make sure to soften the cream cheese for about 30-45 minutes on the counter first but keep heavy whipping cream cold. Use a whisk attachment on the mixer.
- Start beating cream cheese and powdered sugar for about a minute on medium-high speed.
- Slowly pour in heavy whipping cream while it's mixing. Add lemon extract. Continue beating until frosting is whipped into stiff peaks and waves. (It won't take long so don't walk away.)
- Lower the speed back down to stir and add lemon zest. Give it just a few turns to mix it in. Turn off the mixer.
- Transfer the frosting onto a piping bag fitted with a decorative tip (I use 1M) and decorate the top of the cheesecake.
Candies Lemon Peel (Takes about an hour):
- Using a vegetable peeler, peel the skin off the lemon, trying not to get the white part. Slice the peels into thinner strips.
- Add the peels into the small pot and cover it with water. Bring it to boil and boil for about 30 second. Drain the peels and rinse with cold water. Repeat two more times.
- Combine 1 cups of water and 1 cup of sugar in a small pot. Heat up on medium heat and stir until the sugar is melted.
- Add the peels and bring the water to boil. Lower the heat to low and cook for about an 30 minutes.
- Drain off the lemon simple syrup into a container and save it for another use.
- Toss the peels in fine sugar and lay them out to dry.