Despite having lived in California for my entire life, where, I recently read, you can “find Meyer lemons everywhere,” I had actually never met one (or even heard of them) until two years ago. I was very familiar with his cousin, the Eureka lemon, the bright yellow, slightly dimpled fruit with its clean, acidic flavors. One house we lived in had two large lemon bushes in the backyard, and we were lucky enough to have two fruiting seasons, so we had plenty of lemons around.
It wasn’t until I had started to move into a more varied, natural, and organic sort of diet that I ran across mentions of the Meyer lemon, probably in Gourmet magazine or the like. One day, I was strolling through the produce department at Whole Foods and found a little basket on top of the other citrus displays, with what looked like lemons, all right, except that their skin was smooth, more orangeish in color, and smelled like flowers.
That they were about twice the price of Eurekas meant that I never bought any. I never really thought of anything special enough to do with them when they were in season, until last week.
This is amazing, and the picture doesn’t even do it justice. This was the project I had set for myself with those luscious Meyer lemons I was lucky enough to get from the veggie box two weeks ago. I wanted to pick something that would showcase the fruitiness and floral essences of the Meyer lemon, without being over-complicated by too many other flavors. This meant chocolate was out, and even coconut was pushing it.
So what did I choose? Goat cheese. Yeah, I know. Goat cheese is one of the tangiest, sharpest-flavored cheeses I’ve ever loved, and while it seems like it might overpower Meyer lemon, I thought it would mainly complement it, especially if it were tempered with sugar and eggs, and baked into a cheesecake.
Ultimately, I guess I was just a little disappointed that the cheesecake actually lacked any tang beyond what a regular cream cheese cheesecake would have, but it did taste lighter, with a more interesting texture. The lemon curd I made to top it was pretty much the essence of the floral and lemony tastes, condensed. If you’re going to make a lemon curd, I highly recommend trying Meyer lemons.
Lemony Goat Cheese Cheesecake (made 6 1/2 c. servings)
Recipe scaled down from Pithy and Cleaver. Instead of cooking the entire recipe in a springform pan, I chose to cook the cheesecakes in 6 1/2 c. ramekins. Do be sure to grease them well and cook in a water bath. Mine shrunk away from the sides of the pan and unmolded well.
- 1/2 c. + 2 tbsp. sugar
- 2 egg whites
- 2 egg yolks
- 6 oz. fresh, soft goat cheese (I used the local Laura Chenel’s goat cheese, some of the best I’ve ever had, very tangy and a little… well… “goaty”)
- 1 1/2 tsp. light rum
- 2 1/2 tsp. flour
- grated zest of one Meyer lemon
- 1 tbsp. fresh Meyer lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- pinch salt
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease ramekins (or springform pan), sprinkle with sugar, and shake out excess.
- Beat egg yolks and sugar in a pan until very pale. Beat in goat cheese, one ounce at a time. At first, the cheese might not beat in all the way smoothly, but don’t worry – it will all smooth out eventually. Add remaining ingredients (except egg whites) and beat until smooth.
- In another bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Stir a small portion of the egg whites into the batter to lighten it, and then carefully fold in the remainder of the whites.
- Pour batter into pan(s). Place in a baking dish. Pour hot water into the baking dish, until it comes halfway up the sides of the ramekins (or 1 inch up the springform pan). Cover the baking dish with foil and carefully place in the oven.
- Bake 10-15 minutes, or until cake has risen slightly and looks semi-set. Remove the foil and bake an additional 10 minutes, or until set. Remove baking dish from the oven and let cakes cool, about 10-15 minutes. Chill cheesecakes completely and serve with fresh fruit, whipped cream, or lemon curd.
Meyer Lemon Curd (makes about 1 cup)
Recipe scaled from No Recipes.
- 1/2 stick unsalted butter
- grated zest of 2 Meyer lemons
- 1/4 c. Meyer lemon juice
- 6 tbsp. sugar
- 1 large egg
- Place the butter in a medium saucepan. Heat over low heat until mostly melted, and then remove from the heat.
- In a medium bowl, combine sugar, lemon zest, and lemon juice.
- Separate the egg, adding the egg white to the sugar mixture, and the egg yolk to the butter.
- Whisk the egg yolk into the butter until well combined. Then, whisk the sugar mixture together. Finally, pour the sugar mixture into the butter mixture, and whisk all until combined.
- Heat over low heat, and stir constantly until the mixture thickens. The curd is ready when it coats the back of the spoon, or to 170 degrees, if you are using a thermometer.
- Pour through a mesh strainer into a clean container, and chill until ready to use.