Unlike some cheesecake recipes, which require special pans or a water bath, this one is quick and easy to put together and uses an 8×8 inch pan. After it is baked, cooled and refrigerated, you can serve this cheesecake as is, or top it with pie filling, chocolate, whipped cream, sundae sauce, etc. The fresh lemon zest and juice is optional, but I suggest you use it because the taste is heavenly. You will need to make this early in the day (or the night before) if you are planning to serve it for dessert, as it needs several hours to chill. It is a nice size for a family or a small dinner party. Enjoy!
1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
4 Tablespoons powdered sugar
5-6 Tablespoons melted butter
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon (my favorite is the King Arthur brand)
1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
2. Stir together the crumbs, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and melted butter.
3. Press into the bottom and about 1/2 inch up the sides of an 8×8 inch pan. If the pan is metal; freeze the crust for 15 minutes.
4. Bake the crust for about 8-10 minutes, just until set.
5. Remove from the oven and cool, reduce the oven temperature to 325°F.
2-8oz. packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream
3 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest (optional)
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice (optional)
1. Blend the cream cheese and sugar together until smooth. Add the eggs, cream, vanilla, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Mix until well combined.
2. Scrape the batter into the cooled crust. Bake the bars for 30-40 minutes (mine took about 38 minutes), until the filling is set but still jiggles a little in the center.
3. Cool at room temperature for 30 minutes, then refrigerate until you are ready to serve.
4. Slice and garnish with whipped cream, chocolate, caramel, cherries, etc.