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Photo © Paula Conhain

Cowgirl Cheesecake

Recipe from Sue Conley and Peggy Smith, co-owners, Cowgirl Creamery

Total time: 45 minutes. Serves 4-6


    Shortbread Crust:

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 ounces chilled butter, cut into cubes
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 


  • 2 cups fromage blanc
  • 1 cup crème fraîche
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs plus 1 egg yolk


For the crust: Grease a 7-inch springform pan with butter, dust with flour, and set it aside. Add all crust ingredients to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or combine them with a handheld mixer. Mix until the dough is thoroughly combined. Press the dough into the pan bottom, and with your fingers work it so it goes a quarter of the way up the sides of the pan. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 375ºF or 190ºC or gas 5. Bake the crust until golden—don’t let it darken—about 15 minutes. Let the crust cool while you prepare the filling.  

For the filling: Reduce the oven temperature to 350ºF (180ºC). In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or with a handheld mixer, beat the fromage blanc and crème fraîche until smooth. Add the sugar a few spoonfuls at a time, then add lemon zest and juice and vanilla extract. In a separate bowl beat the eggs and egg yolk. Slowly add the beaten egg to the mixing bowl. When all ingredients are incorporated, pour on top of the crust, and bake until the top is slightly brown and the filling begins to pull away from the sides, about 1 hour.

Cowgirl’s note: “Ellen Straus was the co-founder of the Marin Agricultural Land Trust and the mother of Albert Straus, who established the first certified organic dairy west of the Mississippi. Since day one, Cowgirl Creamery has used Albert's milk in most of the cheeses that we make. This is an adaptation of a cheesecake recipe that was passed down from Ellen to her daughters, Miriam and Vivien. Though we begged, Ellen insisted that the recipe stay in the family. So, this isn't exactly the secret family recipe, but we think that this recipe comes pretty close to Ellen's light and lemony cheesecake.”

—Sue Conley and Peggy Smith


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