Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Lemon Meringue Cheesecake

At last! The anti-baking/cooking spell is broken. The day after my one month confinement, I got a baking itch and baked a chocolate brownie; simple and satisfying. Then it was a lot of other bakes and food that followed. The only problem was that I didn't have the time to upload the pics/recipe, what with breastfeeding Ezra, homeschooling Ethan and being the all-round BFF to Edna. =) Busy, busy days... but like a brownie, rich and satisfying! *wink*

Inspired by a Cedele Lemon Meringue, I tried looking for a Lemon Meringue recipe, but was sidetracked by a most intriguing dessert I found on www.kraft.com.au - a Lemon Meringue Cheesecake. Besides, looking at the recipe, I realised how simple this Meringue? Cheesecake? is to make.

Unlike a Meringue pie, I did not need to bother with a pie crust. Further, I didn't need to deal with cooking the lemon curd. For like a chilled cheesecake, this recipe only required a sweet biscuit base and using the electric mixer to mix the cheesecake ingredients to chill, and then on with the Meringue top. =)

Or so I thought...

True to form, the cheesecake part was a piece of pie. *wink*

Lemon Meringue Cheesecake

120g Marie Biscuits (crushed in a ziploc bag with a rolling pin. I set Edna to this task and she pounded with gusto!)
115g Butter, melted
500g Cream Cheese (That's 2 block PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese), softened to room temperature
1 can Condensed Milk
1/2 cup Lemon juice

1. Mix the biscuit crumbs with the butter well, and then press the mixture into a 26 cm (or thereabouts) springform pan which is lined with baking paper. Use a flat bottom glass to press in the bottom of the pan, and the back of a spoon to press the crumbs to the sides of the pan. Chill in the fridge if you do not intend to use it yet, or freezer if you intend to use it soon.**
2. In an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese until it's smooth, then add the condensed milk and lemon juice. Continue beating until the mixture is well mixed.
3. Pour the cream cheese mix into the prepared biscuit crust. Chill until the mix is firm, which takes about 3 hours, or overnight.

As for the Meringue top, I deviated from the kraft.com.au recipe.

You see, I expected the Meringue top to be a bit flaky/crunchy like Cedele's, which is why my first attempt looked like this:
Certainly, I was a bit disappointed that the Meringue wasn't like Cedele's crispy one, but then I realised that Cedele's meringue is probably done in a Meringue cookie style, characterised by more sugar, low oven temperature and longer baking time - not what this recipe required.

To cut a long story short, what happened is that through doing research on why my Meringue was soft, I discovered The Perfect Meringue! Just imagine a lighter than marshmallow meringue that is so light it disappears on your tongue... mmm....

The Perfect Meringue Topping

1 tablespoon Cornstarch
1/4 cup Water
4 Egg Whites (it's much easier to separate eggs and whites when they just come out of the fridge. For making meringue, you'll need to allow the whites to get to room temperature. Cold egg whites don't fluff out as well.)
1/2 teaspoon Cream of Tartar
1/2 cup Caster Sugar

1. In a small saucepan, whisk the cornstarch and water together. Keep whisking while cooking it over medium heat until the mixture thickens. Be careful because this will occur very quickly; in about a minute. Once thickened, remove the saucepan from the heat and continue whisking until it's smooth. Then cool completely before use. Remove lumps if there are any.

2. Place room temperature egg whites and cream of tartar into the bowl of a stand mixer. On high speed, whip until foamy/bubbly.

3. Reduce speed to medium and whip, while slowly sprinkling in the 1/2 cup of sugar. Return to high speed and whip until whites form a ribbon that folds back on itself when beater is raised, about 1-2 minutes (Pre-soft peaks).

4. Stir in the cornstarch mixture and beat on high speed until shiny, soft peaks form, about 2-3 minutes.

5. Then, spread on top of the chilled cheesecake. Save some to pipe around the edges of the pan, or use a table knife to form spikes. Finally, bake in an oven at 180 degree Celcius until the peaks brown and caramelise, about 15 minutes.

6. Remove from the oven and cool before putting it back in the fridge to chill. Cut and serve.

A Close Up

**If you look at the pictures carefully, you'd notice that in the first attempt, I used a springform pan, but in the second attempt, I used an oven-proof glass pie dish. Looks-wise, using the pie dish is prettier, but it's certainly not easy to cut out a slice. In fact, each time I wanted a slice, I needed to microwave the dish for 10 sec to loosen the biscuit crust from the glass. The springform pan was a breeze to cut, but there'll be about an inch of white where the meringue cannot brown. Of course, to "disguise" this white band, you could always press the biscuit crumbs to the top of the springform pan.


ev said...

Hi! I came across your blog when I was looking for a cotton cheesecake recipe for my friend. Your lemon meringue cheesecake caught my attention instead :) I was just wondering, is there anything I can substitute the condensed milk with? I'm not really a fan of condensed milk. Thanks!

Brenda said...

Hi ev,
I used condensed milk as part of the recipe. However, I've discovered that you could use any chilled lemon cheesecake base for the cheesecake portion... in fact, if you don't like lemons, you can even substitute it for any other fruity-cheesecake recipe. =)

ev said...

Thanks Brenda! I'm quite keen to try out this recipe because of the unique topping - meringue. never came across that before :)