ready in: 2-5 hrs
recipe id: 17648
2 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
5 tablespoons melted butter
3/4 cup sugar, divided
24 ounces softened cream cheese
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cup sour cream
toppings as desired
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and lightly grease a 10 x 15 inch pan.
Combine the graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, and 3 tablespoons of the sugar in a medium bowl. Mix well to combine. Pat the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for five minutes. Cool on a wire rack while you prepare the filling.
Beat the cream cheese in a large bowl until smooth and creamy. Add the remaining sugar, lemon juice, lemon peel, and vanilla. Beat until smooth, scraping down the sides with a spatula. Beat in the eggs one at a time until well blended. Gently fold in the sour cream with a spatula.
Pour the cheesecake mixture over the crust, and smooth the cheesecake with a spatula until even. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the cheesecake is firm in the center (test by gently shaking the pan, if it looks jiggly in the center, continue to bake.) Cool on a wire rack and then chill for at least two hours.
Cut the chilled cheesecake into 1 1/2 inch squares using a large knife. Heat the knife under very hot tap water in between each cut to have very smooth edges. Remove the squares from the pan, and if coating with any of the toppings, place on cookie sheets.
If you are serving the squares plain, simply place on a serving dish and serve within two hours for a room temperature square, or chill for up to two hours and serve.
Once the bars are cut they are best served within 2 hours, to allow time for them to sit on a serving tray for up to an additional 2 hours. After four hours they start to dry out. However, the uncut cheesecake can be made up to two days ahead and stored tightly covered in the refrigerator.
Quick: The squares are excellent without a topping. For an elegant easy look, add a halved candied red cherry to each square, or any other piece of candied fruit.
Quicker: Serve the cheesecakes with the toppings on the sides (double each topping recipe) and let them add their own toppings.
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