Lemon Cheesecake Squares


Look at those vibrant little lemons just hanging out together. Little do they know that two of 'em are about to be sacrificed.


One could argue that citrus is a very summer-y flavour, but anything that has cheesecake in it signals comfort food to me.  And comfort food is a fall-to-winter type of romance.  Gone are the days where a breezy caprese salad and pomegranate granita for dessert will satisfy me.  The animal in me wants to hibernate, or at least eat like I'm preparing for hibernation.

When baking anything citrus, I just find it good manners to use equally loud mixing bowls.
Speaking of hibernation...back in 2010, I had a roommate named Ana (in Montreal) who would cook the most exquisite soups to get us through the excruciatingly long, chilly, sleepy winter.  I, in turn, would bake for us, but nothing quite resonated with her like my Lemon Cupcakes. Fast-forward to 2013, and I'm now in Toronto, and she's in Brazil.  This means that delivering a cupcake to her doorstep is not really an option.  Plus, I think I overdid it on those cupcakes way back when, cause I can't fathom making them until 2020.  But Ana's wanted the recipe for some time now.  So I offer up a sort of compromise, a new twist on an old citrus.

Some things taste as good as they look, but let's face it, these squares are fugly. No fear, they taste a lot better than they look!
Lemon Cheesecake Squares (For Ana)
Adapted from The Complete Canadian Living Baking Book, 2008

Ingredients:

Bottom Layer:

2 cups graham cracker (crushed)
1/2 cup butter, melted

Cheesecake Layer:

250g (1 pckg) cream cheese, soft (leave it out a few hours before baking)
1/4 cup organic sugar
1 egg

Top Layer:

4 eggs
1 1/4 cups organic sugar
2 tbsp finely grated lemon peel (I'd test the waters and add a bit more, depending on how tart you like your squares)
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 tbsp icing sugar 

Instructions:

1- Base: Mix melted butter and graham crumbs until combined, press them firmly into the base a 13 x 9 metal cake pan lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Bake the at 325 F for about 12 minutes.

 2-Cheesecake: In another bowl, beat softened cream cheese with 1/4 cup sugar until smooth. Beat in one egg. Spread this cheesecake layer over the base. Set aside.

3-Top: In yet another bowl, beat your 4 eggs and 1 1/4 cup sugar until thick and fluffy. Beat in your lemon juice, lemon rind, and flour. Pour this layer over the cheesecake. Bake at 325 for about 35 minutes, or until the edges are lightly brown and it looks set. Sprinkle the top with icing sugar (optional).

Note:  I personally find these taste best when they are uber-cold, so after they cool, I refrigerate them. It could just be 'cause I'm coming down with something and they soothe my aching throat that way.  I could really use a bowl of Ana's soup right now...