I've made this recipe twice in the past two months with varying degrees of success. I made it first for Brett on Father's Day...and it was AMAZING. According to my brother-in-law Troy, it is very much like Marie Callender's. Excited by my previous success, I tried to recreate the feat while we were in Oregon for the 4th of July. Brett's family was kind and said it was good, but I knew that it wasn't nearly as good as the one from Father's Day. So, I made it again this week and tried to figure out what made the difference. This is what I've come up with:
- Make your own graham cracker pie crust. For my attempts in Oregon and most recently, I used ready-made pie crusts. Because they are already baked, they get a bit too hard when they are baked with the cheesecake filling. It's worth the effort to make your own.
- Don't overbake the cheesecake! You don't want the top to be colored at all. Make sure you set the timer and check its doneness promptly. I definitely overbaked it in Oregon and it lost the light and creamy texture.
- Do make sure you measure cornstarch correctly AND cook the filling enough. In Oregon, the lemon filling didn't set properly. It tasted good, but it was a bit too runny. I'm not sure exactly what I did wrong. But, I suspect that either I didn't measure the cornstarch properly OR I didn't bring the filling back up to the second simmer after adding the lemon flavorings.
- It never hurts to use quality Watkins Original Double-Strength Vanilla. Although I didn't have a side-by-side comparison to know that Watkins vanilla made a difference, I think that it just might. Oh, do I love their vanilla!
If you follow the recipe and the above tips, you too can enjoy this delicious pie!
Lemon Cream Cheese Pie
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Make crust by combining the graham cracker crumbs with melted butter and sugar in a small bowl. Press the crust mixture into an 8-inch pie pan.
- Prepare the cream cheese filling by mixing the cream cheese with 1/4 cup sugar, vanilla, and 1 egg with an electric mixer. Mix until smooth. Pour into pie crust and bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the center is cooked. A sharp knife inserted into the center should come out mostly clean.
- As the pie cools, make the lemon filling by combining 1/2 cup sugar with the cornstarch, salt and water in a saucepan. Set mixture over low heat and bring to a simmer, stirring often.
- Beat the egg yolks in a small bowl. Temper them by adding a little bit of the simmered sauce. Then add the yolks to the saucepan and whisk until well combined. Whisk in the lemon juice, extract and zest. Bring the sauce back to a simmer and remove from heat.
- Pour the lemon filling over the cheese cake layer and allow to cool. When cool, put the pie in the refrigerator for several hours until completely chilled.
- Just before serving, mix the whipping cream with the sugar until the whipping cream becomes stiff. Pipe whipped cream on top of pie.