fat free opinions on a food centric life

Key Lime Cheesecake

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Sometimes I’ll ask my husband what sounds good — to smack his lips together and let me know.  It’s only fair since I’m the one who always decides what we’ll eat.  He barely gets a request in edgewise, so I give him the chance once every other blue moon.

“Key Lime Pie,” he answered when I asked a few days ago.  Not a question — a statement.  Okay.

I’m fairly good at anticipating much of what he comes up with — dinner or dessertwise — but this one threw me for a loop.  Even though we’re experiencing typical San Diego weather now (it’s always hotter in the early Fall…) I’ve had baked apples and braised meat swirling through my head for weeks.  Key Lime?  Talk about shifting gears.

It sounded so tropical and fresh — so summery.  Not to mention that my regular market doesn’t always have them.  But it must have been his lucky day, because not only did I find them, I found a bag of them — tiny green orbs of heaven from Mexico.

Key limes are quite a bit smaller than regular limes and often have skin that is more yellow than green.  To me, the taste isn’t as bitter as that of a regular or Persian lime, and the aroma more sweet. They’re so tiny, I have to get out my wooden router instead of using my old glass juicer which is so much neater.  Yes, the wooden one works, but somehow, my technique must be rotten; I end up with lime juice everywhere but the bowl I want it it!

So how did we end up with cheesecake instead of key lime pie?  I’m still working on that cheese drawer and happened to have two packages of cream cheese that needed to be used.  Besides, I couldn’t resist the lime custard in this recipe.  Oh.  My.

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Key Lime Cheesecake

For the lime custard…
6 lg. egg yolks
3/4 c. sugar
6 T fresh Key lime juice
1 tsp. Key lime zest

For the crust…
1-3/4 c. graham cracker crumbs
1/4 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. unsalted butter, melted and cooled

For the filling…
2-8 oz. pkg cream cheese, softened at room temp
2/3 c. sugar
2 lg. whole eggs
3 T fresh Key lime juice w/pulp
1 T Key lime zest

For the topping…
16 oz. sour cream
3 T sugar

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Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Position a rack in the center of the oven.  Have ready a large baking pan a 9-inch springform pan will fit in that is at least 3 inches in height.

In a small sauce pan, combine all ingredients for the lime custard and whisk over medium heat until it thickens and bubbles around the edges of the pan.  Let bubble about 30 seconds then remove from heat to cool slightly before scraping into a bowl to cool to room temp.

In a gallon zip-lock bag, place about 12 whole graham crackers.  Push the air out of the bag and seal, then crush crackers with a rolling pin until crumbs.  Add the sugar, salt, and cooled melted butter and squish in the bag until ingredients are evenly moist.  Press contents onto the bottom and about half way up the sides of a 9″ springform pan which has been wrapped tightly with layers of aluminum foil.  Bake the crust until set, about 5 minutes.  Remove from the oven to cool completely.

In a large bowl, combine cream cheese, sugar, eggs, pulpy lime juice, and zest.  Mix until creamy.

After the crust is cool, carefully spoon the lime custard into the bottom and smooth evenly.  Then spoon the filling over the lime custard, again carefully smoothing to completely cover the first layer.  Set the springform pan inside the large baking pan and then place on the oven rack.  Slowly pour very hot water into the large baking pan until the level reaches about half way up the side of the springform pan.  Bake for 45 minutes.  It should not be puffy and center will move slightly when shaken.

Combine the sour cream with the 3T of sugar and then carefully spread over the top of the cheesecake.  Put it back in the oven and bake for an additional 10 minutes, just until the topping is set.

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Remove the springform pan from the water bath and let cool on a rack for at least 10 minutes.  Using a sharp knife, carefully run the knife around the edge of the pan to loosen it a bit.  Then cool completely at room temperature.  Cover the pan tightly, and refrigerate overnight.  Release the sides before serving.  Serve cold.

Notes:

  • This is an extremely yummy cheesecake.  The lime custard layer is what makes it for me, but the creaminess combined with the topping is absolutely delicious. My mom used to make my birthday cheesecake with a sour cream topping that was divine.
  • I think we got a key lime pie bonus on this.  Consistency same, tart sweetness perfect, crunchy crust just right.
  • You can use regular limes for this instead of Key limes, and if you can get good quality, bottled lime juice should be fine.
  • I used three layers of foil to wrap my springform pan.  Leaks aren’t worth it.
  • I know it’s written in the directions, but put the pan in the oven before you fill it with hot water.  You don’t want to risk sloshing water into your cheesecake batter, and you definitely don’t want to burn yourself.
  • I did not use my convection setting for this — highly unusual.  The cooking time was right on.
  • You could do this very early in the day and refrigerate until the evening, but the flavor intensifies over the two days.  It’s worth the overnight wait — I know because we didn’t wait.  It was better the next day.
  • I’ve changed my mind about the seasonal aspect of this dessert.  Cheesecake is good anytime.  Period.

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I’m still a New York style cheesecake lover, but this one is seriously making me think about what constitutes my favorite.  Maybe it’s just that key lime…

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And by the way…Look what the post man (mail lady?) left on my porch yesterday
I’m not even going to take the shrinkwrap off of the book so it will be pristine when I mail it to your house.  Only two more days…

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If you’ve commented in the last month, you’ve sent in a recipe, right?  Right?  Click on Gordon in the sidebar for the info…