Ever since I got back from judging the Crisco 2010 National Pie Championships, I’ve been getting requests for recipes for Lemon Swirl Cream Cheese Pie, the pie that took home the best in show prize. The American Pie Council has posted the recipe on their site, but I couldn’t resist making it myself at home.
The pie is basically a cheesecake, with a cream cheese and egg-based custard filling in a pie crust. There are a couple of things that set it apart, however. The first is that there is a lot of lemon curd in the cheesecake filling, and there are swirls of lemon curd on top of the pie. The lemon curd is homemade with fresh lemon juice, so it packs a lot of lemon flavor. The second thing is the vanilla wafer and almond crust, which is crisp and substantial enough to hold up to the filling. The pie is easy to make, although you do need to make the lemon curd about 30 minutes ahead of time. As you would expect, the pie is also delicious and has a great combination of bright lemon and rich cream cheese flavors in a smooth, creamy base.
The presentation of the winning pie was better than mine is here. Not only did it have piped on whipping cream around the border of the pie, it was also garnished with fresh raspberries and thin lemon slices. Since mine isn’t going into a contest (just my stomach, more than likely!), I dispensed with some of the garnish. The only other note I’ll make about this pie is that the original recipe called for adding lemon extract into the filling. I felt that it really distracted me, since the pie is already packed full of flavorful lemon curd and definitely doesn’t need an artificial flavoring to improve on it in any way.
Lemon Swirl Cream Cheese Pie
Homemade Lemon Curd
1 tsp fresh lemon zest
1/2 cup strained fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1/4 cup butter, cut into small pieces
Vanilla Wafer Almond Crumb Crust
1 1/2 cups vanilla wafer cookie crumbs
3/4 cup finely ground toasted almonds
2 tsp lemon zest
1/8 tsp of salt
7 tbsp butter, melted and cooled
Lemon Cream Cheese Filling
2 (8-oz) packages cream cheese, room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Reserved Lemon Curd (from above)
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tbsp confectioners’ sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
12-15 fresh raspberries
1 small lemon, cut into thin slices and quartered
Prepare Lemon Curd: In a small saucepan, whisk together lemon zest, lemon juice, and sugar. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Lightly beat eggs in a medium bowl. Drizzle in lemon juice slowly, whisking constantly. When all of the lemon juice has been added, return mixture to saucepan. Add butter and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until curd has thickened. Pour lemon curd into a small bowl. Set aside 1/2 cup of Lemon Curd. Press plastic wrap directly onto surfaces of the curd. Cool 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Prepare Vanilla Crumb Crust: In a medium mixing bowl, use a fork to toss together vanilla wafer crumbs, almonds, lemon zest, and salt. Stir in melted butter. Press mixture evenly onto bottom and sides of a 9-inch pie plate.
Bake for 12 minutes on bottom oven rack. Remove from oven and set aside while filling is prepared.
Prepare Cream Cheese Filling: In a medium mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then add in the sour cream, vanilla extract and all reserved lemon curd (except for the 1/2 cup set aside earlier). Pour into baked crust. Dollop remaining 1/2 cup lemon curd onto filling and swirl through filling using a small knife.
Bake for 30-35 minutes or until center is just set. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack. Cool for 2 hours, then refrigerate for at least 4-6 hours, or overnight.
To Garnish: In a chilled, medium mixing bowl, beat whipping cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla with a hand-held electric mixer, starting at lowest speed and increasing gradually each minute, until stiff peaks are formed. Using a star tip, pipe whipped cream decoratively around border of pie. Decorate with fresh raspberries and lemon slices. Refrigerate until serving time.