Cooking With Kids: Lemon cheesecake

lemoncheesecake

This is the best cheesecake I’ve EVER made, and it’s perfect for little helpers.  You’ll need to plan ahead for this delicious dessert – if you want this cake for dinner, then cook it before lunch.  This recipe takes time to soften the cream cheese, 20 minutes to make, 1 hr 15 minutes to bake, an hour to cool, then a couple hours in the fridge before eating.  Plus, everything takes longer when cooking with kids, and you don’t want to rush and get stressed out.  The goal is to have fun, and end up with something tasty to eat.

Ingredients:

¼ cup melted butter (that’s ½ stick)
1 pack graham crackers (they come 3 packs to a box usually), crumbled
Have your child open the pack of graham crackers and put them into a freezer (sturdy) ziplock baggie (at least as big as quart size).  Squeeze air out of the bag, then have your kid put the baggie on the floor and dance on it, til the crackers are stomped to bits.  (If crumbs start coming out, stop immediately, and get a new baggie.)
¼ cup sugar (for crust)
1 ½ cups sugar (for cake mixture)
3 packages cream cheese, 8 oz each, softened
A couple hours before, pull 3 packages of cream cheese out of the fridge, and place on the counter to warm up and soften.  (If you forget, just unwrap and microwave each pack for 15-30 seconds until soft.)
4 eggs
¼ cup lemon juice, or juce from 1 lemon
Zest from 1 lemon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Equipment:

9” springform cheesecake pan; spray with nonstick cooking spray.
3 bowls – 1 small plastic, 1 medium glass, 1 large mixing.
Rubber spatula
Mixer

Step 1:
Melt butter in medium glass bowl in microwave.
Add graham cracker crumbs.
Add ¼ c. sugar.
Stir.
Dump crumbs into cheesecake pan, and press down with the back of a spoon evenly until flattened.

Step 2:
Unwrap 3 packages of cream cheese and put in large mixing bowl.
Beat till fluffy.
Add 1 ½ cups sugar.
Add eggs.
Never have kids break eggs directly into the mixing bowl – break eggs, one at a time, into a small bowl.  Pick out any stray eggshells, then they can dump the egg into the mixing bowl.
Add lemon juice and lemon zest.
Add vanilla.
Mix on low.
Pour on top of graham crust in cheesecake pan.

Step 3:
Place in oven at 300 degrees for 1 hr 15 min – I do bottom rack for 1 hour, then top rack for 15 minutes.
After cooking, set on top of the stove to cool, and take a knife and carefully run it around the outside edge of the cheesecake.  This will keep it from cracking as it settles and cools.  When cool, place in the fridge for a couple hours, then enjoy!

lemon

Cheesecake photo: by Juanelos.

Lemon photo: by Axhaaarry.

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