4 packages(8-ounces each)full fat cream cheese, softened (see note)
1 ¼cups(265g)granulated sugar
4tablespoonsfreshly squeezed lemon juice, from 2-3 lemons - zest them before juicing; you'll need the zest later
4large eggs, lightly beaten
8ounceswhite baking chocolate, melted and cooled to room temperature (see note)
Sweetened whipped cream and lemon slices for garnish, optional
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F and make sure an oven rack is in the middle position (with another oven rack one level lower for a pan of water).
For the crust, in a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, powdered sugar and lemon zest. Toss in the butter cubes and cut the butter into the dry ingredients with two knives or a pastry blender until the mixture is crumbly. Press the crust mixture onto the bottom and about an inch up the sides of a 9- or 10-inch springform pan. I find it easiest to press the mixture around the sides of the pan before spreading the rest evenly over the bottom and pressing lightly (with the bottom of a measuring cup).
Bake for 20 minutes until lightly golden. Cool on a wire rack.
Place a pan of hot water on the lowest rack below the rack where the cheesecake will bake and let the water heat up while preparing the cheesecake filling. I use a metal 9X13-inch baking pan filled 3/4 full - it's easiest to fill the pan with water after the pan is placed on the oven rack to minimize spillage.
For the filling, in the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or in a bowl with a handheld electric mixer, beat the softened cream cheese until well-combined and fluffy, 2-3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the sugar, flour, lemon juice, cream, and vanilla and mix until well-combined, 1-2 minutes. Add the white chocolate and lemon zest and mix until combined, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.
Add the eggs and beat on low speed until just combined (over beating after adding the eggs can cause the cheesecake to crack while baking).
Pour the cheesecake filling over the crust, spreading evenly. Bake the cheesecake (placing the pan on the rack above the pan of water) for 65-75 minutes until the filling is just set (it's ok if the very center jiggles just slightly). Add more time if needed.
Remove the cheesecake from the oven and let cool completely on a wire rack. Cover and refrigerate until completely chilled, 8-12 hours (the flavor will get better as it chills as well). Serve the cheesecake slices with sweetened whipped cream and lemon slices, if desired.
Chocolate chips: white chocolate chips generally do not melt well (they clump and seize easily while melting), so I highly recommend white baking chocolate, which incidentally is NOT the same as almond bark or melting wafers. Don't use those; they have a fake, sugary flavor that may ruin this divine cheesecake. I can easily find the Ghirardelli brand of white baking chocolate in my local grocery store above the chocolate chips in the baking aisle (here's an online source and visual). Water bath: I never mess with official water baths when baking cheesecakes - too many soggy crust experiences, but the alternate method listed in the recipe (pan of simmering water under the cheesecake) works just as good in my experience and is much easier, but if you'd like to use a traditional water bath, you can definitely go that route.Cream Cheese:make sure to use full fat, not light cream cheese.