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Lemon Swirl Cream Cheese Pie

Lemon Swirl Cream Cheese Pie, sliced

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

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.

Serves 10.

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  • Anonymous
    May 5, 2010

    This looks fantastic!

  • Kitchen Corner
    May 5, 2010

    This is such a refreshing dessert! I like all kind of citrus desserts. I’m thinking to make a lemon cheesecake but quite lazy to cook my own lemon curd 🙁 The weather is just so hot here!

  • Linda
    May 5, 2010

    I don’t understand why, with all that bright fresh lemon flavor, you would want to add the extract. That’s like saying lemons aren’t lemony enough. 🙂 Looks like a great pie. I definitely want to try the recipe. The only fault I see in your website is making me want to bake everything you show each day you show it so I can’t keep up with my desire to make them all NOW! 🙂 Thanks for a great site. I went into withdrawal while it was down for maintenance. Glad to have it back!!

  • Ashley
    May 5, 2010

    I can see why this pie won best in show! Sounds amazing.

  • MaryMoh
    May 5, 2010

    Looks rich and delicious….mmmm. Lemon cheesecake is my favourite. Just love that beautiful lemon smell and taste.

  • Sarah P
    May 6, 2010

    This looks really, really good. I’m going to have to give it a shot!

  • Paula
    May 6, 2010

    so yummy! I like citrus tarts

  • Alma
    May 6, 2010

    Oh yeah.. oh yeah this looks good.

  • Margaret
    May 6, 2010

    Love lemon. Love cheese cake. This should be perfect for both. Sounds/looks delicious.

  • Patricia Scarpin
    May 6, 2010

    This is mouthwatering – it will go to my long list of delicious lemony recipes to try. 🙂

  • Cindy
    May 6, 2010

    Maybe I missed this, but how do pie contest contestants who need to chill a pie for 4-6 hours get that time? I thought all pies had to be prepared that morning, but maybe I’m confusing it with the Bake-off.

  • bashtree
    May 6, 2010

    This looks amazing. I’ve had a hankering for something lemony, and this looks like a real winner.

  • Nicole
    May 6, 2010

    Cindy – For this contest, the pies are prepared in advance and turned in at the contest in the morning. The prep work is not judged in this contest. The pies are stored for the judges throughout the day.

  • Yum! I made something like this in the form of cupcakes. Lemon cupcakes with lemon curd topping, and cream cheese frosting. So good! Making the lemon curd was so much fun, and I bet the Vanilla wafer crust was a perfect touch to this pie. xxSAS


  • Anna
    May 11, 2010


    I’m really inspired by your previous quark pie post and I’m wondering if I could use quark in place of the cream cheese in this recipe??

    Thanks 🙂

  • Heather
    July 1, 2010

    How much lemon curd is there total? I was going to make up a batch of my normal recipe of lemon curd for this, which makes 2 pints, to use in another recipe too.

  • Meseidy
    August 5, 2010

    OMG! I have to confess I just click the screen. It was more dusty then lemony but it’s the reaction that counts. Love lemon dessert!

  • Hope
    January 23, 2011

    This pie was fantastic! The woman who made this is GORGEOUS!!!! Like woman, like pie!!!!

  • Terri Jordan
    April 13, 2011

    Yum! Who doesn’t like the taste of lemons, especially something that looks this good. This would be a great summer desert to serve family and friends.

  • Jessica Land
    January 28, 2012

    Was searching for a Lemon pie recipe to cook for Church. This one seems to be really tasty and since my Daughter is a Girl Scout and selling Girl Scout cookies currently. I wanted a recipe to use the Shout Out cookies in to show them off. They are like a ginger snap so they are going to become the pie crust. I can’t wait to try it out and will let you know how it turns out.

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