lemon dessert recipe

Lemon Drop Mini Cheesecakes

Lemon Drop Cheesecake

Don’t let their small size fool you. These little cheesecakes pack a punch of lemon flavor. There is lemon zest in the batter and a topping full of lemony tartness. Not too sweet, either, which is a plus in my mind.

I wanted a dessert but didn’t want to make anything too big. These mini cheesecakes were the right solution. The recipe only uses one package of cream cheese and only makes 6. For the crust you can use vanilla wafers, but since I didn’t have any, I just trimmed off the edges of some graham crackers, so they would fit in the muffin tins. You can even omit a crust and they are gluten free.

So here is the recipe. I hope you enjoy it.

Lemon Drop Cheesecakes

6 vanilla wafers or graham crackers

1 (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened

1/4 c. sugar

Zest of one lemon

1 t. vanilla

1 egg

Topping:

½ c. lemon juice or a combination of lemon juice and pieces of lemon*

½ c. sugar

2 t. cornstarch

Zest of a lemon

Line 6 muffin tins with paper liners. Place 1 wafer in each. If using graham crackers, trim them to fit the muffin tins. Beat together remaining ingredients for 1 minute with electric mixer. Divide this mixture in the muffin tins, filling each almost full. Bake 25 minutes at 325 degrees. Cheesecakes will puff up, then deflate as they cool. While cheesecakes are baking, make the lemon topping. Combine all topping ingredients in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until mixture thickens and gets bubbly. Set aside. Once the cheesecakes have cooled down, spoon  over the lemon topping. Chill before serving. Store leftovers in fridge. Makes 6. These can be frozen. Serves 2-3.

* I only had 2 lemons, so to get the most from them, I removed the peel and white membrane and used the lemon segments in the topping. I was still a little short, so I added some extra lemon juice to get to ½ cup. You could just use all juice. 

The centers deflate, leaving room for the topping.

Spring Lemon Tart

Spring Lemon Tart

This would make a lovely dessert for any Spring dinner. It would be a nice dessert for Easter, too.

I was leaning towards making a cheesecake. I already had cookie crumbs, I could use for the crust. Then, I discovered I only had one box of cream cheese. Not enough for a cheesecake. While searching my fridge for cream cheese, I found a couple of lemons. I suppose I could have made a lemon pie, but I decided to just make something up with what I had, including the cream cheese.

What I ended up with is a sweet/tart lemon dessert. Really nice, actually.

Before I get to the actual recipe, let me talk about the lemons, and including fresh lemon juice in recipe directions.

Recipes will often list the “juice of a lemon” in the ingredients. There is about the same amount of lemon juice in all lemons, so that a little difference, one way or the other, is no big deal. The amount is anywhere from 2-3 tablespoons of juice in a lemon. You might get 4 tablespoons, if the lemon is really big. I have used that phrase in recipes myself.

Sometimes, however, you have to recognize when you have lemons that aren’t “average”.

The two lemons I had on hand were big, really big. When I juiced them, I ended up with 2/3 of a cup of lemon juice. So, in this recipe I used the actual measurement of the juice, rather than saying, “the juice of 2 lemons.” Three or four average sized lemons should give you 2/3 cup of juice.

So here is the recipe for my lemon tart, the happy end result of using what I had, and making it work.

Spring Lemon Tart

Crust:

1½ c. crushed vanilla cookies

4 T. melted butter

Filling:

1 (8oz.) container cream cheese, softened

½ c. sugar

2/3 c. lemon juice

Zest of two lemons

3 eggs

¼ c. cornstarch

Combine crust ingredients in medium bowl. Press crumb mixture into a 9–inch springform or tart pan. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 10 minutes. While the crust is baking, make the filling. In mixing bowl combine the cream cheese with the sugar and beat until fluffy. Add the lemon juice and zest and beat well. Add the eggs and cornstarch and beat until smooth. Pour filling over the baked crust and return to oven. Bake for 35 minutes, or until golden on top. Center will be soft, but firms as the tart cools. Cool, then refrigerate until ready to serve. You can dust with powdered sugar, if you like. Serves 6.

Spring Lemon Tart

Spring Lemon Tart

I wasn’t sure what to call this dessert. It started out as one thing, but sort of ended up somewhere else. I finally decided to just call it a tart. This is a perfect example of using what you have on hand. I was so pleased with the result.

I was leaning towards making a cheesecake. I already had cookie crumbs, I could use for the crust. Then, I discovered I only had one box of cream cheese. Not enough for a cheesecake.

While searching my fridge for cream cheese, I found a couple of lemons.

I suppose I could have made a lemon pie, but I decided to just make something up with what I had, including the cream cheese.

What I ended up with is a sweet/tart lemon dessert. Really nice, actually.

Before I get to the actual recipe, let me talk about the lemons, and including fresh lemon juice in recipe directions.

Recipes will often list the “juice of a lemon” in the ingredients. There is about the same amount of lemon juice in all lemons, so that a little difference, one way or the other, is no big deal. The amount is anywhere from 2-3 tablespoons of juice in a lemon. You might get 4 tablespoons, if the lemon is really big. I have used that phrase in recipes myself.

Sometimes, however, you have to recognize when you have lemons that aren’t “average”.

The two lemons I had on hand were big, really big. When I juiced them, I ended up with 2/3 of a cup of lemon juice. So, in this recipe I used the actual measurement of the juice, rather than saying, “the juice of 2 lemons.” Three or four average sized lemons should give you 2/3 cup of juice.

So here is the recipe for my lemon tart, the happy end result of using what I had, and making it work.

Spring Lemon Tart

Crust:

1½ c. crushed vanilla cookies

4 T. melted butter

Filling:

1 (8oz.) container cream cheese, softened

½ c. sugar

2/3 c. lemon juice

Zest of two lemons

3 eggs

¼ c. cornstarch

Combine crust ingredients in medium bowl. Press crumb mixture into a 9 –inch springform or tart pan. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 10 minutes. While the crust is baking, make the filling. In mixing bowl combine the cream cheese with the sugar and beat until fluffy. Add the lemon juice and zest and beat well. Add the eggs and cornstarch and beat until smooth. Pour filling over the baked crust and return to oven. Bake for 35 minutes, or until golden on top. Center will be soft, but firms as the tart cools. Cool, then refrigerate until ready to serve. You can dust with powdered sugar, if you like.

Lemon Squares

Lemon Squares

For me, Lemon Squares are a blast from the past. They were a treat I remember making with my mother when I was a kid. A crisp, tender crust, topped with a lemon custard. Just the right balance of sweet and tart.

I decided to make them for a dinner with my cousin and her husband. They loved them.

I forgot just how much I loved them, too. I also forgot how easy they are to make. These are a great dessert any time of the year, but I think especially nice for Spring. They also would make a wonderful dessert for Easter.

Lemon squares are baked in two steps. The crust is pressed into the pan and baked. Then the crust is topped with the egg/lemon mixture and returned to the oven for the second bake. So simple- and so good.

I did make a couple of changes from the original recipe. I was very happy with how they came out.

 

Here is the recipe. Enjoy!!

 

Lemon Squares

1 c. flour

½ c. butter

¼ c. powdered sugar

3 eggs

1 c. sugar

2 T. lemon juice

2 t. lemon zest

½ t. baking powder

¼ t. salt

 

Mix together flour, butter and powdered sugar and press into the bottom of an 8×8-inch pan. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 20 minutes. Beat together remaining ingredients and pour over baked crust. Return to oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden and puffed. Cool. Cut. Makes 16 squares.

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