A tart, sun-yellow topping hovers over several inches of a milky, tangy, and skimmable custard that is the texture of thick pudding, just barely bolstered by a couple tablespoons of flour. It's what you like about panna cotta or flan—how responsive it is to your fork's every move—with none of the weird gelatinous jigglyness.
8-ounce packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups
pure vanilla extract
large eggs, at room temperature
In This Recipe
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 375° F.
In a medium bowl, stir together the vanilla wafer crumbs and granulated sugar. Mix in the melted butter until the crumbs are all moist and clump together slightly when you press them.
Transfer the mixture to a 9-inch springform pan and use the bottom of a glass or a measuring cup to press it evenly onto the bottom and about 2 inches up the sides of the pan. (You can also dump in the crumbs, cover them with plastic wrap, and use the pads of your fingers to press them down.)
Bake until the crust is fragrant and slightly darker, 9 to 12 minutes. Let the pan cool on a rack and lower the oven temperature to 300° F.
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese, ricotta, flour, and a pinch of salt on medium speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl and paddle frequently, until very smooth and fluffy about 5 minutes. Make sure the cheese is lump-free.
Add the sugar and continue beating until fully blended and smooth.
Add the lemon zest and vanilla and beat until incorporated, about 30 seconds. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until just blended. Be careful not to overbeat the eggs—it can cause the cheesecake to puff too much and result in cracks across its surface.
Pour the filling into the cooled crust and smooth the top. Bake at 300° F until the center jiggles when nudged, 55 to 65 minutes. The cake should be a little puffy around the edges and moist in the center.
Set on a rack and cool completely, then cover and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 8 hours and up to 3 days. At this point, you can also freeze the cake for up to 1 month. To freeze, unmold the cooled cake and place it on a baking sheet in the freezer, uncovered, until the top is cold and firm, Wrap it in two layers of plastic and one layer of foil. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before serving.
When ready to serve, unclasp the springform pan and remove the side. Run a long, thin metal spatula under the bottom crust of the cheesecake. Carefully slide the cake onto a flat serving plate. (Or, do as I do, and leave the cake on the springform base.)
Spread lemon curd evenly over the top of the cheesecake. To cut, run a thin knife under hot water, wipe it dry, and cut the cake into slices, heating and wiping the knife after every slice.
Keep in the refrigerator, covered loosely with plastic wrap, for up to 5 days.
A (former) student of English, a lover of raisins, a user of comma splices. My spirit animal is an eggplant. I'm probably the person who picked all of the cookie dough out of the cookie dough ice cream. For that, I'm sorry.