It was cold, gray, and flurrying in Boston when I went downtown last Friday. The snow started falling thick and fast by late afternoon, still beautiful, even though we've already seen so much of it this year.
The holiday lights are still up in the Boston Commons, wound around all the trees, the only foliage they have right now. It could have been Christmas, as I walked through the public gardens in the snow with a cup of hot chocolate from Burdicks, coming across these fabulous Elsa and Olaf snowmen in the park. Definitely Christmas rather than the first day of spring.
I've been dreaming of fruit desserts for the past few weeks, ready for the color and bright flavors of spring baking. As much as I love chocolate and caramel and spice, I'm ready to come out of hibernation.
So this cheesecake is a piece of wishful thinking, made the first weekend of spring as the wind blew and the skies dumped more snow on us. Raspberries are nowhere near in season, and the lemons must have traveled far and long to make it to Boston. But I found a mini citrus zester at a little local kitchen wares store when I was shopping on Newbury Street (who wants to buy clothes when you can buy mini microplane zesters?). So of course, I couldn't resist making some sort of bright lemon dessert.
This cheesecake is certainly that, creamy and citrusy, its rich velvety smoothness dotted with spots of juicy raspberries. Instead of a traditional graham cracker crust, I made a coconut macaroon crust; its creamy, nutty flavor works perfectly with the fruit. (Plus let's be real, I was too lazy to crush up some graham crackers).
Anyways, I hope your first day of spring was somewhat more seasonal than mine. Either way, you should make yourself a raspberry lemon cheesecake; we all need a little bit more sunshine in our lives.
Plus for those of us in Boston, bikini season is a longgggg way away. So let's dig in.
Raspberry Lemon Cheesecake with a Coconut Macaroon Crust
Click here for the printer-friendly recipe
Yields one 9-inch cake
4 eggs, at room temperature, divided
2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
¼ teaspoon salt, divided
24 ounces cream cheese (three 8-ounce packs), at room temperature
1 ¼ cups sugar
¼ cup lemon juice
zest of two medium lemons
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup sour cream
1 cup fresh raspberries, plus extra to garnish
Preheat the oven to 325 F. Line a 9-inch springform pan with foil. Grease the foil with butter or vegetable oil.
Make the crust. Place two egg whites in a mixing bowl. Reserve the egg yolks for later. Add the coconut and ⅛ teaspoon salt, and mix well.
Press the coconut mixture evenly into the bottom of the pan. Bake for 15 minutes, until golden brown around the edges.
Make the filling. Beat together the cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in ⅛ teaspoon salt, lemon juice, lemon zest, and vanilla extract.
Mix in the eggs one at a time, mixing until just combined. Do the same for the two egg yolks left over from making the crust. Don’t overmix at the point, or else your cheesecake might crack in the oven.
Fold in the sour cream, followed by the raspberries. Pour the batter into the springform pan, on top of the crust. Bake for 50-55 minutes, or until the center is just set, but still slightly jiggly. Turn off the oven, crack the door open, and let the cheesecake sit in the oven for another 15 minutes before taking it out. Cool completely, then refrigerate overnight.
Slice and serve with additional raspberries.