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Individual Vanilla Cheesecakes with Lemon Curd

Servings: Makes 6 mini cheesecakes
These lucious little vanilla cheesecakes with lemon curd are just right for serving when you have friends visiting for an afternoon lunch, or tea, or for a weekend brunch dessert.

Try making these with a graham cracker crumb base with a little bit of lemon extract added or finely grated lemon zest, to give them that extra lemon zing..................Diana

For Cheesecakes:
1 lb. cream cheese
1 lb. granulated sugar
1/2 vanilla bean,
split and seeds scraped out
1/2 oz. cornstarch
4 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup sour cream

For Lemon Curd:
3 whole eggs
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup lemon juice
8 oz. unsalted butter
1/2 cup creme fraiche

For Graham Cracker Crust-Optional
1 1/4 cups crushed graham crackers
6 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
1/2 tsp. lemon zest, finely grated

Lemon slices
Mint sprigs

To Prepare Lemon Curd:
Butter and sugar six 4 oz. ramekins and set aside. In a double boiler whisk eggs, yolks, sugar and lemon juice. Cook until thick. Whisk in creme fraiche and butter until melted. Strain mixture through a chinoise, or sieve. (If doing graham cracker crusts, pat crust mixture into each ramekin bottom). Fill ramekins 1/8th of the way up with lemon curd mixture and set aside.

For The Cheesecakes:
Put on a kettle of water to boil, or if you don't have a kettle, boil at least 2-3 quarts of water in a large pot. (This hot water will be used for a "water bath" when you bake your cheesecakes).

In a mixer, cream the sugar and cream cheese. Scrape half of the seeds from the vanilla bean and add to mixture. Fold in the cornstarch, scraping down the sides with a spatula. Mix until soft. Incorporate eggs into mixture, one at a time and add vanilla extract and sour cream. Spoon or pour the cheesecake mixture over the lemon curd in the ramekins and place ramekins in a deep baking or roasting pan. Add enough of the hot water to the baking pan to come half way up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until center is set. Carefuly remove pan (with water in it)to a cooling rack. Leave cheescakes in pan with water for 15 minutes, and then remove them. Pour water out of pan. (you are now through with the water bath water). Let cheesecakes cool on rack for 1 hour, then put them in the refrigerator to chill for at least 4-6 hours or overnight. When ready to serve, remove from refrigerator, and invert onto dessert plates or serve in ramekins. Garnish with small slices of lemon and a mint sprig.

Makes 6 servings.

Recipe adapted from: Michael Mina, AQUA Restaurant, San Francisco California.

Tip from Diana's Desserts: A graham cracker crumb base, with a small amount of lemon extract or finely grated lemon zest added, would be a nice addition to these little cheesecakes.

For graham cracker crust:
Place crushed graham cracker crumbs in bowl; add melted butter. With your fingers, mix thouroughly. Pat enough graham cracker crust mixture to cover the bottom of each ramekin. Fill with lemon curd. Set aside until you are ready to pour cheesecake mixture in ramekins and bake.

Source: Adapted from recipe by: Michael Mina, Aqua
Date: July 17,2002