Lemon, Poppy and Chèvre Cheesecakes

There is something relaxing and therapeutic about spending a weekend afternoon testing out a new recipe that takes hours and stages to prepare. This is exactly what I did a couple of Saturdays ago after quite a few weeks of weekend travel. My experiment this time was cheesecake, which was something that had previously seemed to be too intimidating to attempt. However, after perusing through Food & Wine, Southern Living, Cooking Light, and a few other magazines, I felt inspired, and set out on my quest to create a lemon, poppy, and chevre cheesecake with steusel and a raspberry and strawberry compote. As most recipes I make, I found a great recipe that incorporated seasonal items and tweaked it to fit my tastes, be slightly healthier, and become a my creation. I also loved that this recipe makes individual portions in ramekins (everything is cuter in mini sizes!), which was perfect for just the two of us, and would make a great treat to take to a small dinner party.

Lemon, Poppy and Chevre Cheesecakes with Raspberry and Strawberry Compote



Recipe adapted from Food and Wine

Yield: 8 mini cheesecakes (cooked in 8 ounce ramekins)Nutrition for cheesecake only: 221 calories, 16.7 grams of fat; 6.5 grams of carbohydrates; 2.7 grams of sugar; 9.7 grams of proteinIngredients:

  • 1/4 cup, plus more for coating the ramekins
  • 8 ounces fat free cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 6 ounces soft fresh goat cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup fat free sour cream
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds

Strawberry & Raspberry Compote

  • 8 ounces strawberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
  • 1 tablespoon St.-Germain liqueur
  • 1 pint raspberries
  • Juice from half of a lemon
  • Juice from half of an orange


  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs (from 1 sleeve)
  • 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

I. Make the cheesecakes:

  • Preheat the oven to 325°.
  • Spray eight 4- to 6-ounce ramekins with vegetable oil spray and dust with sugar; tap out the excess. Set the ramekins in a large roasting pan.
  • In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese, goat cheese and the 1/4 cup of sugar until smooth.
  • Split the vanilla bean in half and slice to remove the beans.
  • Beat in the zest, lemon juice, vanilla beans and pure vanilla extract, and salt. I doubled up on the vanilla here, because I like a strong vanilla taste in cheesecake.
  • Beat in the sour cream.
  • Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well between additions.
  • Beat in the poppy seeds.
  • Divide the mixture between the ramekins and set the pan in the oven. Carefully add enough hot water to the pan to reach halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
  • Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the cheesecakes are just set.
  • Remove from the oven and let cool in the water bath for 1 hour. Refrigerate the cheesecakes until cooled completely, 3 hours.

II. While the cheesecakes are cooking, make the compote:

  • Cut your strawberries into fourths and slice down one side of your vanilla bean.
  • In a medium sauce pan, add your strawberries, raspberries, sugar, orange zest, orange juice, lemon juice, St. Germain, vanilla bean, and salt.
  • Cook over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until the berries are breaking down and the excess juice cooks off, and the liquid is slightly thickened (to a syrup like consistence).
  • Transfer the compote to a bowl and let cool. Discard the vanilla bean.

III. Make the streusel:

  • Preheat the oven to 350°.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • In a bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter, sugar and lemon juice until fluffy.
  • Beat in the graham cracker crumbs, flour, salt and cinnamon.
  • Pat the streusel flat onto the baking sheet and freeze for 10 minutes.
  • Bake the streusel for about 20 minutes, until fragrant, golden and firm.
  • Let cool completely, then crumble the streusel.

IV. Get ready to eat!

  • Place the streusel crumbs on the plate (put enough to cover the size of the bottom of your ramekins).
  • Run a thin knife around the cheesecakes and invert them onto plates.
  • Spoon the compote on top, and serve right away!

Since I substituted some fat free ingredients making the cheesecake come in at only 221 calories, I didn’t feel quite as bad indulging in second one the next night.

Hope you enjoy these light, fluffy, refreshingly lemony cheesecakes at your next summer dinner!

(all photos by me)

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