Whoever invented the expression “easy as cake” was definitely not talking about cheesecake. Those 5″cheesecakes you see behind New York deli counters? Someone put a whole lot of work into that. Even after dealing with springform pans and water baths, those things STILL come out with a cracked top half the time. I’m no baker, so you know that if I’m selling you a dessert recipe, it’s going to be simple and hard to mess up. Enter Lemon Poppy Cheesecakes.

These mini cheesecakes are baked crustless in individual ramekins. So much less work! The “crust” is just a crumble I throw together in the food processor and toast up in the oven. A sweet, tangy compote is the icing on the cheese cake. Since it’s officially spring, I’m developing new, seasonal recipes for Flirting with Flavors parties. This dessert may just be FWF’s signature Spring dessert! Strawberry rhubarb tastes like Spring, doesn’t it?


The base of this cheesecake is a mixture of three things: cream cheese, mascarpone, and sour cream. Together they have the lightest texture and perfect tanginess. With an electric mixer, I simply whip cream cheese, mascarpone, and sugar together before adding in the rest of the custard ingredients: lemon, lemon zest, salt, vanilla, sour cream, and poppy! The gorgeous custard gets divided between eight greased ramekins.


To cook the cheesecakes as gently as possible, place them in a casserole dish and fill it with hot water— just enough to come 1/2 way up the ramekins. Bake in a 325 degree oven for about 30 minutes.That’s it! You’ll know they’re done when the center of the custard just stops jiggling.


While the cheesecakes cool in the refrigerator, make a crumble by pulsing graham crackers, sugar, butter, and cinnamon together in a food processor. Spread this on a sheet tray and bake for about 10 minutes at 350; it’ll be crunchy, buttery, and delicious.


The final touch is a compote of strawberry and rhubarb. Toss the fruits (is rhubarb a fruit? I have no idea!) with sugar, lemon, ginger, vanilla, and a touch of orange liqueur and simmer until soft and pourable.

Although you could enjoy these cheesecakes in the ramekins for a more casual dessert, I unmold them to serve at a dinner party. They ought to come out of the ramekin with no problem if you just run a paring knife along the outside. A spoonful of compote and a sprinkling of the crumble finishes off the plate. Just for fun, I threw on some sliced strawberry, mint, and piped a little mascarpone on the plate. Why not? A nice presentation makes everything taste better, doesn’t it?


I hope you enjoy this light springtime dessert soon. Warm air, strawberries, and summer will be here soon, I just know it. If you like the looks of this dessert and are thinking of hosting a Spring Flirting with Flavors event, please email pa********@ao*.com ! We’d love to plan a Spring menu for you!

Lemon Poppy Cheesecake
Lemon Poppy Cheesecake
Print Recipe Lemon Poppy Cheesecake



  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
  • 6 oz. mascarpone
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds


  • 5 tablespoons butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 sleeve graham crackers, roughly broken up
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cinnamon

Strawberry Rhubarb Compote

  • 1 pound rhubarb, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 cup hulled, quartered strawberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoon orange liqueur


  • Preheat oven to 325. Spray eight 6-ounce ramekins generously with cooking spray. Set in a large baking dish or roasting pan. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese, mascarpone, and sugar until smooth. Beat in zest, lemon juice, vanilla, and salt. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well between additions. Beat in poppy seeds. Divide batter among ramekins and add enough hot water to the pan to come 1/2 way up the ramekins. Bake for approximately 30 minutes, until set and no longer jiggly. Chill in pan for 15 minutes before putting into refrigerator to chill completely, about 3 hours.
  • Meanwhile, make crumble. pulse all ingredients in food processor until crumbly. Turn out onto a sheet tray and bake at 350 degrees for ten minutes, until toasted and fragrant. Let cool and set aside.
  • To make compote, toss all ingredients in a medium sauce pan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook until soft and pourable, then let cool.
  • To serve, run a paring knife around the edge of each cheesecake and invert onto serving plates. Top with compote and crumble. If desired, garnish with strawberry slices, piped mascarpone, or mint leaves. Enjoy!