Recipe Makeover: Lemon Cheesecake

“Why a Meyer?”

As my mother tells the story, sucking on lemons was the only thing which helped with the morning sickness she had while pregnant with me. Interestingly enough — for those who believe the studies which say that children get their tastes from what their mothers eat during pregnancy — I am rather fond of the taste of lemon, and though I didn’t eat a lot of lemons while my son was in utero, he, like my mother, loves to suck on a fresh lemon.

When we had company last weekend, I wanted a dessert which would complement the tastes in the Moroccan chicken with figs I was making as the main entree. As I considered and discarded several options, I came across a recipe for a Meyer lemon raspberry cheesecake. My son, of course, was all for the idea, though he did inquire what a Meyer lemon was.

For folks who might not be familiar with them, Meyer lemons are lemons which have crossed with mandarin oranges. As such, while still lemony, they’re not as sour as a true lemon. The resulting taste is really quite nice if you like lemons but aren’t fond of the pucker.

The original recipe, though, needed some tweaking if our family was going to be able to it, and the result was a delicious cheesecake which even my daughter who doesn’t like cheesecake found herself enjoying.

Original Recipe for the Crust:

1 box quadruple chocolate chunk cookies, 1 box pure butter shortbread lemon thins, 2 tablespoons sugar, 4 tablespoons butter

Revamping the Crust:

1. The cookies: Here’s my thinking on crusts for cheesecake: The crust it there as a contrast to the cheesecake. The cheesecake is the glory. So, I decided there was no reason to use such decadent cookies and opted for simply graham crackers instead. Also, because I needed the crust to be gluten free, I used Smoreables gluten free version.

2. The sugar: If you’re using cookies or graham crackers which already have a sweetener in them, why would you add more sugar? I simply omitted it altogether.

3. The butter: Since I needed the crust to be dairy free, I opted to use the Earth Balance vegan, soy free version.

Original Cheesecake Recipe:

4 8 oz blocks of cream cheese, 1 cup sour cream, 4 large eggs, 1 cup sugar, 2 tbsp Meyer lemon zest, 1/2 cup Meyer lemon juice, 1/4 tsp salt

Revamping the Cheesecake:

1. The cream cheese: Since I don’t have a soy allergy, I chose to simply substitute the cream cheese with the Tofutti soy cream cheese which works rather well in cheesecake.

2. The sour cream: Again, not having a soy allergy, I was able to use the Tofutti brand sour cream.

3. The eggs: Since whenever possible, I like to cut back on fat and cholesterol, I opted to use 2 eggs and 4 egg whites instead of four whole eggs.

4.  The sugar: Since I don’t use sugar when I bake, I decided to use Agave instead which meant I could cut back on the sweetener by half the amount.

5. The lemon zest and juice: I’m not actually all that fond of zest in my cheesecake, because I don’t like how it looks, so I omitted the zest and only used freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice. The recipe said 3 to 4 lemons would be needed for 1/2 cup, but my husband got a whole cup’s worth out of four lemons, which worked out since I then used the other half in my Moroccan chicken recipe.

Original Topping:

10 oz fresh or frozen raspberries, 1/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup water.

Revamping the Topping:

Okay, I’ve already confessed that I don’t like to make more work for myself than necessary. When I looked at the recipe, telling me to cook the raspberries for 15 minutes and then push the sauce through a sieve, only to have to bring the sauce to a boil again, I decided then and there that I wasn’t doing any of that.

Instead, I decided that good ol’ Polaner All Fruit was going to do the trick, and as I looked at my selection, I actually decided that I’d rather have the combination of blueberry and lemon over raspberry and lemon, so I simply microwaved some blueberry Polaner All Fruit and drizzled it over the top of the cheesecake.

The end result, as I already mentioned, was a huge hit with our guests and with our family. My son is already asking that I make it again!

Gluten, Dairy Free Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake


one 8 oz box of gluten free graham crackers

1/4 cup vegan butter

four 8 oz containers vegan cream cheese, at room temperature

1/2 cup agave

1 cup vegan sour cream, at room temperature

2 eggs plus 4 egg whites, at room temperature

1/2 cup Meyer lemon juice, squeezed fresh from 2-4 lemons

1/4 tsp salt

blueberry Polaner All Fruit

Cooking Instructions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and grease the bottom of a 10 inch springform pan with favorite method of greasing. Cover the outside of the pan well with aluminum foil.

2. Pulse the graham crackers in a food processor until you have graham crumbs. Mix the crumbs with the butter and pat into the bottom of the springform pan.

3. Bake the graham crust for 10 minutes and remove to a cooling rack to cool.  Lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees.

4. Boil water and get out a pan which is large enough to hold your springform pan, which you’ll immerse in water halfway for the cooking.

5. In a mixer, whip the cream cheese just until smooth.

6. With the mixer on low, slowly drizzle in the agave until it’s all incorporated into the cream cheese.

7. Add the sour cream and mix only until blended.

8. Add the eggs and egg whites, one at a time, blending after each addition just until incorporated.

9.  Scrape down the sides of the cheesecake batter, and add the lemon juice and the salt.  Combine well.

10. Scrape the cheesecake batter into the prepared springform pan and smooth the top.

11. Put the springform pan into the larger pan and put the pan into the oven. Carefully pour the boiling water into the larger pan until the water is halfway up the springform pan.

12. Bake the cheesecake for an hour and a half.

13. Remove the cheesecake from the larger pan and put onto a cooling rack to cool for 15 minutes. Remove the foil.

14. Gently run a butter knife around the end of the springform pan to loosen the cheesecake from the pan and remove the outer edge of the springform pan.

15. Cool the cheesecake in the fridge for at least six to eight hours or overnight.

16. Remove the cheesecake from the fridge and put onto a larger platter. Microwave 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of the blueberry Polaner All Fruit and drizzle it prettily over the cheesecake so the all fruit runs down the sides.



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