I really like lemon pudding. Not love .....just really like. I couldn't eat it every day - like I could chocolate or caramel...or pretty much any kind of cookie, but when I get a craving for it I have to have it.
It usually comes in the form of a lemon meringue pie but I was looking for something a little different this time. I started googling lemon recipes and came across several different versions of lemon cheescake squares. I crossed a couple of them and came up with this one.
The graham crackers and butter are nice and butterscotch-y the cheesecake is rich and creamy with a hint of lemon, and then it is topped with a VERY lemony pudding on top. The textures blend well together and the flavors are enough to satisfy a lemon pudding craving AND a cheesecake craving.
Lemon Cheesecake Bars
2 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 X 8 oz pkg cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup white sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
finely grated zest from 1 lemon
2 large eggs, plus 1 egg yolk
1/2 cup white sugar
2 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp cream
Preheat oven to 325. Line 9 X 13 pan with parchment paper to make a sling, fold the overhanging paper over the edges of the pan. Spray lined pan with cooking spray.
To make crust: Mix crumbs, brown sugar, and butter together in a medium bowl. Press down firmly into prepared 9 X 13 pan. Bake the crust for 10 minutes.
While the crust is baking, whip the cream cheese in a stand mixer until light and fluffy. Add sugar, eggs, vanilla, sour cream, lemon juice, and lemon zest, stopping frequently to scrape down sides of bowl.
Pour mixture over the hot crust and spread evenly to sides. Bake for about 30 - 35 minutes, or until top is no longer shiny and the filling jiggles only slightly when shaken. (I usually cook it until the filling doesn't jiggle at all because I am paranoid about under cooking things)
As the cheesecake bakes: heat the lemon juice and zest in a medium saucepan, over medium heat, until hot but not boiling.
Whisk the eggs in a small bowl and slowly whisk in sugar. Whisking constantly, slowly pour in lemon mixture until completely blended. (Do not do this too fast or you will curdle your eggs.)
Return the egg and lemon mixture to the saucepan and continue cooking and stirring until it thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. About 3 - 5 minutes approximately.
Remove pan from heat and stir in butter until incorporated. Stir in the 1 Tbsp cream and stir until smooth. Let sit until cheesecake is baked.
After the cheesecake has come out of the oven, (give the lemon pudding a stir first) pour lemon topping on top and smooth out evenly.
Let cool on wire rack until at room temperature. Set in fridge until completely chilled and then cover.
Let set for at least 5 hours, but can set up to 2 days. When you are ready to serve you can lift the cheesecake out using the parchment paper "handles" to get it out of the pan. Cut and serve.
It does take a little bit of planning and patience to make this, especially if you are in the middle of a lemon pudding / cheesecake craving. But, if you can stick it out you will not be disappointed. I promise!