I went on and on about my lemon trees the other day, and when I have a good year for lemons like I just did, I love getting to make limoncello. Limoncello is a simple liqueur involving lemon peels, vodka, and simple syrup. Every recipe I’ve seen seems to suggest a different number of days for the lemon peels to sit in the vodka (three days to 10) and then a different quantity of simple syrup to add at the end (two-thirds cup to three cups for 750 ml vodka). Whichever recipe you use, once it’s ready it can be mixed into all kinds of cocktails, and my favorite is a simple combination of limoncello and club soda over ice. Limoncello can also be used in all kinds of desserts. As I was waiting for my lemon peels to steep in the vodka, I was busy trying to locate a recipe I had seen before for some kind of limoncello cheesecake. It was a year ago if not longer that I had seen this, and I have no idea where I first saw it. In my search, I came upon Giada’s recipe for limoncello cheesecake squares, and that may even have been what I was remembering in the first place but I don’t think so, and I ended giving them a try.
In Giada’s recipe, biscotti are used to form the crust, but I used graham crackers in their place since I had some handy. The graham cracker crust was formed with melted butter and lemon zest, and it baked until golden and was allowed to cool. The filling was made from ricotta, cream cheese, lemon zest, sugar, limoncello, vanilla, and eggs which were combined in a food processor. The filling was poured over the cooled crust, and it baked in a water bath for about an hour. After cooling on a rack for an hour, it was refrigerated overnight. It was very simple to prepare, and since it baked in a nine inch square pan, there was no need to wrap foil on the bottom to prevent water from entering.
The square pan was easier for baking, but I was unsure how easily the cut pieces would be to remove from it. Actually, it was one of the easiest desserts ever to cut and serve from the pan. The crust held together well, and there was no sticking at all. The limoncello flavor was delightful but was not at all overpowering. This was a rich and creamy cheesecake that wasn’t as dense as others. I’ll have to try it again someday with the biscotti crust, or maybe I’ll eventually figure out which recipe I was looking for in the first place.