Lemon Meringue Cheesecake

Crust 3 c vanilla wafer cookies ⅓ c salted butter melted Cheesecake ¾ c granulated white sugar 1 ½ Tablespoons lemon zest  3 (8 ounce) Cream Cheese 1 c honey vanilla Greek yogurt ¼ c lemon juice 1 teaspoon lemon extract 4 large eggs ½ cup lemon curd Meringue 3 large egg whites 1 ½ teaspoons lemon juice 1 ¼ cups powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 F and assemble a 9 inch springform pan. Use a food processor to crush the vanilla wafer cookies to crumbs, about 1 minute.

Add in the salted butter and pulse to combine. The mixture should have the consistency of wet sand.

Press the crust into the springform pan and bake for 10-12 minutes or until it just begins to brown.

Reduce oven temperature to 300 F, remove the crust from oven and allow the crust to cool completely.

While the crust is cooling, prepare a water bath by placing a lint free towel, folded, in the bottom of a roasting or large baking pan. You want a pan large enough for the springform pan to fit comfortably with a little space on all sides. Heat 4 cups of water in a kettle or saucepan until boiling, turn off heat and allow it to set while you assemble the cheesecake.

To make the cheesecake, beat together the sugar and lemon zest in a large mixing bowl with a hand or stand mixer until the sugar is fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add in the cream cheese and beat on medium, just until light and fluffy, about 5-7 minutes, depending on the temperature of the cream cheese.

Mix in the greek yogurt, lemon juice and lemon extract until completely combined, about 2-3 minutes. Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time, on low speed, just until combined.

Wrap the cooled springform pan in aluminum foil and a baking bag, if possible. Pour the cheesecake mixture into the prepared crust and gently spread into an even layer. Tap the pan gently several times on the counter to pop any air bubbles.

Put the cheesecake pan in the roasting or large baking pan and place it all in the oven.

Carefully pour hot water into baking pan, outside the springform pan, until it reaches the middle of the springform pan, at least 1-2 inches.

Bake for 1 hour 15-30 minutes or until the cheesecake has just a slight wiggle in the middle when the springform pan is moved.

Shut the oven door and turn it off, allowing the cheesecake to continue cooking as it cools for 30 minutes. Crack the oven and allow the cheesecake to cool for 30-45 min.

Allow the cheesecake to set for 30-45 min at room temperature and then spread the lemon curd gently over the top, leaving a ¼ to ½ inch of space around the edge of the cake for the meringue to seal it in and then cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight.

Once the cheesecake has refrigerated until set, at least 4 hours, prepare the meringue and preheat the oven to 425 F.

Prepare the meringue by beating the egg whites and lemon juice together in a large mixing bowl using a hand or stand mixer, until soft peaks form, about 3-4 minutes.

Gradually add in the sugar, ½ cup at a time, beating on high until all the sugar has been added.

Once all the sugar has been added, continue beating until stiff peaks form. This can take another 5-10 minutes. You want a meringue that is stiff enough to hold its shape and stick to the bowl without sliding.

Pipe or spread the meringue onto the cheesecake, being sure to place it around the edge of the top so that the curd won’t drip off when heating

Bake for 3-5 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before cutting and serving.