Lemon Cheesecake

When the weather starts to get warm, there is nothing that I love more than to make my family's recipe for Lemon Cheesecake. We use lemon flavored cookies or biscuits for the crust; blend a super rich filling with components of lemon curd, cream cheese and sour cream; and top it all off with fresh hand whipped cream. Whether staying home or going to someone's house for Easter - this is the ultimate warm weather dessert.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Remove cream cheese from fridge and let soften (under no circumstances should you ever, and I mean ever microwave cream cheese!).

Melt butter in microwave safe container for 30 seconds. Keep microwaving in 30 second increments until butter is completely melted - but not boiling. Set melted butter aside.

Take cookies and place into durable zipper top Ziploc bag. Beat the hell out of cookies with a spatula, wooden spoon, fists or whatever else you'd like to use to get some angst out. Truth: this is why Southern women are so friendly. We take frustration out on the baked goods. Once cookies are super crumbly, add to container holding melted butter. Mix butter and cookie crumbs together with spatula until evenly blended. Tip: crust mixture should look like wet sand at beach.

Using spatula, pour crust mixture into pie tin. Use your fingers to press the crust down into the pie tin until evenly distributed. Put crust into preheated oven and bake for 30 minutes or until yummy amazing smells are coming out of oven. Remove crust from oven and let it cool. Tip: you can cool your crust in the fridge (make sure to put a dish cloth underneath it) - I prefer to let the crust cool on my back screened porch. It stays quite chilly in the Midwest until end of April. Plus, it frees up precious real estate in fridge.

While the crust cools, make the filling. Using a mixer (I love my KitchenAid), add cream cheese cheese, sour cream and eggs. Mix until ingredients are evenly distributed. Add sugar and lemon extract. Mix until sugar and extract is blended. With lemon curd, add at least 3 oz - but feel free to add more (or less) depending upon your taste preferences. I love lemon! So I tend to add more curd than recommended!

Tip: Make sure you are tasting your food throughout the entire baking process. Also, if you have friends and family around, bring them in for a taste test. If you're not tasting - you ain't baking!

Pour the filling mixture into your now cool crust. Put crust and filling into oven and bake for 1 hour. Tip: At the 1 hour mark, I remove the cheesecake from the oven and take a sharp steak knife and put it point down into the middle of the cake and pull it out (smoothly). If the knife comes out clean, I know the cheesecake is fully baked. If the knife comes out with wet filling on it, I put the cheesecake back in for another 15 minutes or until the knife comes out clean. Let it cool.

While the cheesecake is cooling, make the whipped topping. Pour the heavy cream and sugar into a mixing bowl. I personally like to work with an immersion blender but a standard hand mixer works fine as well. Whip the heavy cream and sugar until the mixture is thick and easily "peaks" like a snowy mountain top. Set aside.

Once the cheesecake is cool (you may want to refrigerate/back porch it over night), take the remaining lemon curd and spread on the top of the cheesecake. Then, using a spatula, evenly distribute the whipped cream over the top of the entire dessert. Serve and enjoy the praise from family, friends or work colleagues!

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