This week's Sunday Slow Baker choice was another recipe from Gina DePalma's Dolce Italiano. Gina talks about being obsessed with ricotta cheesecake, and develping this recipe as the ultimate. She says that by adding cream cheese to the ricotta, it gives it a creamier texture with less graininess. The recipe calls for candied orange and lemon peel, but if you don't like that, you can just use grated zest. I used only grated orange zest in mine, and also substituted Grand Marnier with a couple of drops of almond extract for the amaretto called for.
I was very excited to try this recipe, because I've never had ricotta cheesecake and the description sounds wonderful. But I was disappointed in how the cheesecake turned out. The baking time called for 45 to 50 minutes, and I had to bake it for an extra 40 minutes, which I still don't think was enough. So the texture is too soft, as you can see from the above photo. The taste is wonderful though. The combination of the orange zest and the Grand Marnier gives it a subtle, but very noticeable orange flavor. The texture is not dense and thick like many cheesecakes, but light and almost fluffy. Not sure if I overbeat it trying to get rid of some of the ricotta's graininess or if it is supposed to be that way. I will eventually try this recipe again with some variations of making it less runny-maybe draining the ricotta cheese first, or adding more cornstarch.
OBSESSIVE RICOTTA CHEESECAKE (torta di ricotta)
Makes oen 9-inch cake, approximately 12 servings
For the crust-
3/4 cup sliced blanched almonds, toasted and cooled
1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
Pinch of kosher salt
1 large egg yolk
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the filling-
1 8-ounce package cream cheese
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
4 cups(30 ounces) fresh whole-milk ricotta
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon amaretto
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons finely chopped candied orange rind(optional)
2 tablespoons finely chopped candied lemon rind or candied citron(optional)
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and position a rack in the middle. Lightly grease a 9" springform pan with butter or nonstick cooking spray, dust it with flour, and tap to knock out the excess.
To make the crust: Place the almonds, flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor and process until the nuts are finely chopped. In a small bowl, lightly whisk together the egg yolk, melted butter, and vanilla extract. Add the liquids to the nut mixture and pulse several times to moisten and combine the ingredients thoroughly. The mixture should come together easily between your fingers when pinched.
To form the crust, press the mixture onto the bottom and about an inch up the sides of the springform pan. Place the pan in the refrigerator for 15 to 20 minutes to firm up the crust, then bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the crust is light golden brown. Remove the pan for the oven and allow the crust to cool completely on a wire rack.
To make the filling-In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese with the sugar and salt on medium speed until soft and creamy, about 1 minute. Add the ricotta and beat until the mixture is smooth and light, another 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Beat in the vanilla extract, amaretto, and cornstarch. Fold in the candied fruits, if desired, with the spatula
Pour the filling into the cooled crust, smoothing the top with the spatula. Bake the cheesecake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the center is set;it should be jiggly but not liquid. Remove the cheesecake from the oven and allow it to cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.
Chill the cooled cheesecake for at least 4 hours before serving; it is best served fully chilled on the following day. To serve, remove the sides of the springform pan and cut the cheesecake into wedges with a long, thin-bladed knife. Any leftover cake should be wrappted in plastic and stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Here are a few photos of the process:
Wet ingredients being added to the processed flour and almonds for the crust.
Baked cheesecake cooling in pan.