These bars depart from the traditional graham cracker crust and use a lemony shortbread to carry a light, fluffy and super flavorful filling. Both parts of the bars are made in a food processor and the pie is baked slowly in a very easy, hassle-free water bath. It’s lemon, vanilla and cream cheese shining at their best with minimal effort.
Here’s my cheesecake philosophy: I’ll rarely, if ever, make it if I have to fuss over it. I hate pressing crumbs up the sides of pans (even though I’ve done it for some very special pistachio butter and apple cider cheesecakes) and I groan at the thought of wrapping up a springform pan in foil for a water bath which will most definitely seep in. So I found a way to make cheesecake that is dead simple, and totally flavorful.
The first time I made these, I made them crustless. Yep, I cut down the steps and went straight to the point: filling only. It was delicious, if a bit messy. And since these might be the kind of dish you make to take to parties or gatherings, or serve at your own, I figured a crust was probably a good idea. But I didn’t want to go down the traditional route of graham crackers so I made a super simple lemon shortbread (like the one that held up these blueberry curd bars).
The result? Truly wonderful. Adding lemon to the base rounds out every bite. The shortbread is wonderfully crumbly and holds up a filling that is light and fluffy – made possible by making it in a food processor and baking it in a waterbath (which needs no wrapping!). Next time someone asks you for cheesecake and you aim more something easy but delicious – you make these!
Some people like their cheesecake mostly vanilla, some think it can’t be cheesecake without the lemon. I’m definitely in the latter group. To get more lemon flavor into these I have zest in the shortbread and some juice in the filling. However, one fabulous way to impart lemon flavor into the filling is to incorporate the zest – without letting it interfere with the creamy texture by making lemon sugar.
To do this you’ll zest 1-2 lemons (depending on how lemony you like it) into the sugar, an hour or more ahead of time (the longer you leave it the more sweet lemony it gets, but overnight it can almost taste like candy). Rub the zest and sugar between your fingers to get the zest to release its oils. Set the sugar in a bowl aside to allow the flavor to develop. When it’s time to use the sugar, sift it through a fine mesh sieve.
Share & tag me on instagram @buttermilkbysam