I rarely eat dessert, so you won't see a lot of dessert recipes from me, but I do love a good cheesecake. I don't have much of a sweet tooth, but cheesecake is just enough on the savory side to appeal to me. I also really love lemon, so this lemon cheesecake I made for a Passover seder really appealed to me. Traditionally, a cheesecake base is made from graham cracker crumbs, but this is made from almonds and matzo meal which was quite different for me. It was a bit crunchy, which added a nice touch to the creamy cheesecake filling, although I found it a bit hard to cut through when I served it. You can buy matzo meal in just about any grocery store, even after Passover is finished.
The only lemon in the original recipe was the lemon zest, which didn't sound like it would add a lot of lemon flavor. I added a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice, giving it a nice lemony taste without being overwhelming. I added a bit more zest around the outside, just as a garnish. Don't be alarmed by the long time involved — most of that time is allowing the cheesecake to cool. You can make this a day or two in advance if you like. It will keep nicely in the refrigerator.
This recipe is from Gourmet Mazagine, April 2008.

Prep time: 30 minutes

Total time: 5 hours

Yield: 8-10 servings

Lemon Cheesecake


  • 3/4 cup sliced blanched almonds, toasted and cooled
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup matzo meal
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
Cooking directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F with rack in middle.
  2. Pulse almonds, sugar, matzo cake meal, and salt in a food processor until finely ground. Transfer to a bowl and stir in butter until combined well. Press onto bottom and 1 inch up the side of springform pan. Bake until crust is firm and a shade darker, about 12 to 15 minutes. Cool crust completely in pan on a rack.
  3. Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees F.
  4. Beat together cream cheese and sugar in a bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Reduce speed to low and add eggs 1 at a time, mixing until incorporated. Mix in zest and vanilla and lemon juice.
  5. Put springform pan in a shallow baking pan and pour filling into cooled crust. Bake until filling is set 1 1/2 inches from edge but center is wobbly, 45 to 50 minutes (filling will continue to set as it cools). Transfer cake in pan to a rack and immediately run a knife around edge, then remove side of pan. Cool completely, 2 to 3 hours.