No, this is not a Star Trek reference – at least as far as I know. I was reading through recipes and found one for “Quark Lemon Squares”. So I Googled “quark” and found out it’s a type of cheese made from buttermilk. It’s kind of a cross between cottage cheese and cream cheese, and not readily available here in the States. The recipe suggested substituting cream cheese, but I found a “recipe” for making it – and it’s a cinch, just be sure you have at least 24 hours before you need it! But even if you use cream cheese, this is one of the easiest cheesecake recipes I’ve come across.
So yesterday I started the quark, and today I made the lemon squares, although it turns out that it’s more of a cheese cake. I made lemon curd for the first time and discovered that it’s not that difficult to make, albeit TOTALLY unhealthy. In fact, this is probably the most unhealthful dessert I’ve ever made, but it sure did taste good! We also had some leftover raspberry coulis that I put on top – how can you go wrong with lemon and raspberry??!!
The recipe called for a square springform pan, but these are quite sliceable so any square baking dish should work. If you want to be able to take the “cheese cake” out of the pan before slicing, just line the pan with aluminum foil or wax paper first. A round springform works too, if you aren’t looking for the little squares out of it.
1 day ahead:
1/2 gallon cultured whole buttermilk (makes 1 3/4 – 2 c. of cheese)
Pour into an oven proof glass dish with a lid. Cover and put in the oven at 150F. Leave for 12-14 hours – solids will have seperated from the whey (yellowish liquid). Line a colander with 2-3 layers of cheesecloth and put it in the kitchen sink. Pour the cheese and whey in. Fold the cheesecloth over and put a saucer or some other heavy object on top and leave to drain over night. Next morning turn the cheese onto a plate and use, or put in an air tight container in the fridge until you’re ready to use it.
At least 6 hours ahead (this is really best if you can do it far enough ahead for the curd to have refrigerated long enough to really set):
Juice and zest of 4-5 lemons, depending on how juicy they are. (If you use 5, reserve the zest from one and add to the lemon curd after you’ve strained it)
1 3/4 c sugar
2 TBS butter, melted
In a small saucepan, beat the eggs, sugar and lemon juice and zest. Place the saucepan over medium heat and gently cook the mixture, stirring with a wooden spoon, until steaming. Make sure the curd does not boil. Stir frequently and continue to cook until the curd has thickened and the curd coats the back of the wooden spoon – approx 3-7 minutes.
Take the curd off the heat and then add the butter, stirring to incorporate it into the curd. Pour the curd mixture through the prepared strainer to make sure there are no lumps in the lemon curd. (You DEFINITELY want to do this to get any little bits of egg white out.) Allow to cool to room temp and then store in refrigerator until ready to use.
1 prepared graham cracker crust OR
1 1/2 c graham cracker crumbs
3 TBS butter, melted
2 c. quark (or however much resulted from the cheese making) OR nonfat cream cheese
3/4 c sugar
1/8 tsp salt
Juice and zest of 2 lemons
1 c. lemon curd
Preheat oven to 350F.
In a bowl, mix the graham cracker crumbs and melted butter. Press firmly into the bottom of a 8 1/2 inch spring form pan (you can use a 9″ inch, the filling will just be a bit shorter). Or use an 8×8 pan.
In a food processor, mix the quark, sugar, lemon juice and zest and salt until well mixed (use a spatula once or twice to make sure it all gets mixed well). Add the eggs and mix again until smooth.
Pour into crust and bake for 40 – 45 minutes, or until center is dry to touch and edges begin to puff. Pour lemon curd onto cheese cake and spread evenly. Refrigerate overnight (yeah, right!). If you’re going to take the cheesecake out of the pan, wait until the cheesecake has cooled and the lemon curd has had a chance to resolidify, or it will all run off the cake.