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RECIPE: Ricotta (Italian) Cheesecake

Posted by topo (My Page) on
Tue, Apr 17, 07 at 22:14

I'm a newbie here and thought you'd like to try a recipe I've been fooling around with for a while. The concept is not especially original but there are some added fillips and it's so detailed, that relatively new bakers should be able to have success with it. It's always been a crowd pleaser no matter what assortments of flavors or amounts are included, and folks can be as original as their imaginations allow. I'd favor comments or suggestions, even flames and trolls. They're always fun.

Ricotta (Italian) Cheesecake April 15, 2007
Serves 10-12

This light, delicate, citrus-y cake usually has a graham cracker crust which turns out to be mushy and adds little to flavor or interest. This recipe encorporates any simple sweet pastry crust (pate sucree), moisture-proofed with chocolate, which will add a contrasting texture and a slight background hint of the chocolate. It requires some prep work but is worth the pudding, as it's said.

The cake can be served as is, or with an accompaniment of berries. A raspberry coulee makes an interesting counterpoint.

The cake itself contains only ricotta cheese, eggs, heavy cream, a bit of flour for cake structure, and some flavorings. This is standard. As usual, it's the way these elements are combined and baked that makes for success.

The flavorings are variable, the amounts shown are approximates. Anything appealing and appropriate can be added, like crushed toasted almonds, hazelnuts, raisins and the like. Even graham crackers can be added to the pastry mix for the bottom crust.

This recipe is not especially unique, but the baking times/methods are somewhat different. Careful control of the oven temperature is essential to achieve the highest rise and fluffiest product. Too high a baking temperature will set the top and sides before the cake has achieved the highest rise.

Most recipes call for a 12" springform, which makes a large cake and is a bit difficult to handle. For this cake, the ingredient amounts have been reduced for a smaller springform pan and makes for easier serving.

One last thought: The directions here are detailed, experienced bakers can use their own recipes and methods for blind-baked pastry crusts and flavorings. Everything is shown for completeness.

EQUIPMENT and PREPARATION:

Springform pan, 8" diameter, 3" sides.
17"-wide heavy-duty aluminum foil to both blind-bake the crust, and cover the bottom and sides of the springform during cake baking.
Stationary counter-top mixer. Another hand electric mixer is useful but not necessary.
Ban Marie (use a 12" saut pan, or cake pan with 2" sides).
Large wire whisk or spatula for folding.
Pie weights or dried beans for blind baking.

All ingredients are room temperature.
Place a small bowl and hand-mixer beaters in the freezer.
Heat a few quarts or water (or as much as you need for the ban marie) in a tea pot and turn to low.

INGREDIENTS:

For the crust, a typical pate sucree recipe of your choice, or:
1C all-purpose flour.
2Tbsp sugar
6Tbsp butter
1egg yolk
tsp vanilla
1Tbsp lemon juice
1 to 1-1/2 oz. quality bittersweet chocolate to moisture proof.

For the cake:
1-1/2 lbs whole milk ricotta cheese, not drained (Note 1)
1C sugar
4eggs, jumbo, separated, the whites in a medium bowl, yolks in a small bowl.
tsp cream of tartar
C flour, all- purpose
tsp pure vanilla extract
tsp lemon extract
tsp almond extract
1 to 3tsp grated lemon rind
1Tbsp grated orange rind
C heavy cream
1Tbsp Grand Marnier or Triplesec (optional)

BOTTOM CRUST PREPARATION:
Oven to 375 degrees

Fit a sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil carefully into the springform so that it assumes the interior shape. Remove and set aside in that shape.

1. Melt the chocolate over simmering water, such that the chocolate reaches about 90 degrees. Cool.
2. Butter (or use Baker's Joy) the bottom of the springform.
3. In a food processor, add the flour and sugar. Pulse a few times to mix.
4. Add the butter and pulse to coarse pea size.
5. Add the egg yolk, vanilla and lemon juice and pulse to small pea size.
6. Transfer the crumbly mix to a board, gather it and press together into a ball, cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes or so.
7. Remove from the refrigerator and dust the ball with flour and place between two pieces of parchment paper or plastic wrap. Roll out to fit the springform pan bottom, flouring the dough along the way if it sticks to either of the papers.
8. Peel back the top paper and transfer the pastry sheet to the springform using the bottom paper as a guide. Manipulate the sheet so it fills the bottom completely. If any of the pastry breaks, simply repair it with leftover pieces. Place the pastry shell in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to rest.
9. Place the fitted aluminum foil into the springform over the pastry and fill with pie weights or dried beans.
10. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and remove the foil and weights. Prick the bottom with a fork and return to the oven for 5 or 10 minutes. The edges will be browned.
11. Cool the crust a bit and paint only the bottom with the melted chocolate. Spray the sides with Bakers Joy or similar.
12. Wrap the outside with aluminum foil, maybe two separate sheets. The pan and crust is now ready to receive the cake.

FILLING:
Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees.

1. Take the small bowl and beaters from the freezer and whip the heavy cream. After it retains soft peaks, add the optional Grand Manier or similar.
1. Transfer the Ricotta to a mixing bowl and mix, slowly adding 3/4 C of sugar. Beat for five minutes until smooth.
2. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating briefly after each addition.
3. Add all the extracts, flour, and the lemon/orange rinds. Beat another 30 seconds or so.
4. Sift the flour over the mixture and encorporate by mixing carefully. Do not over mix.
5. In another large bowl, whip the egg whites with the hand mixer until they begin to froth, add the cream of tartar and continue beating. When the whites are foamy and smooth, slowly add the remaining 1/4 C of sugar. Continue beating until stiff peaks are apparent. This should take about three to four minutes all-told.
6. With a balloon whisk or similar (large piano wire whisk), fold the heavy cream into the cake mixture to loosen it a bit. Then transfer all the egg whites to this mixture and fold quickly and carefully for about 20 seconds until no streaks are apparent
7. Transfer the cake mixture into the prepared springform pan. The mixture should reach to within a " of the top.

BAKING:
Oven at 325 degrees
This is a critical step and seems to be the limiting factor for success. Make sure the springform is wrapped well in tinfoil to prevent water from insinuating into the mix during baking.

1. Place the springform in the 12" saute pan or baking pan. Open the oven, place the pan on a rack in the center. Move the springform to one side. CAREFULLY add the hot water to the pan to surround the springform, trying not to get any water in the cheese mixture. Move the springform back to the center of the ban marie.
2. Slide the pan into the oven, close the door and maintain the temperature for 1 hour and 15 minutes. The cake will rise above the sides. The top should be brown. At this point you can shake the ban marie a bit. The middle few inches of the cake will shimmy, which is fine. It should be loose and not set through. You can add time in 10 or 15 minute increments until you're satisfied. (Note 2)
3. Turn off the oven temperature and allow the ban marie + cake to cool in the oven for another 2 - 3 hours. DON'T OPEN THE DOOR! This will complete the baking, but not overbake it. The cake should have risen above the springform pan.
4. Remove from the oven and transfer the springform from the ban marie to a cooling rack. You can remove the tin foil carefully, there may be some water between the pan the foil. Allow the cake to reach room temperature.
5. Place the cake and pan in the fridge for 2 -3 hours or overnight.
6. Remove sides and, with two large opposing spatulas, slide the cake off the bottom onto a 10" platter. (Note 3) Use a serrated knife to cut.

Note 1. The ricotta used for this recipe was Polly-O, available in most supermarkets. Sargento or others can probably be used as well. But fresh ricotta will most likely require draining off the excess water in a cheesecloth-lined sieve over a bowl overnight in the refrigerator, or the cake may be runny and unappetizing. Weigh the ricotta after draining.

Note 2. A convection oven should NOT be used to bake this cake, it tends to set the top before the rise is completed. Advice here is to use a standard oven at 325 degrees. The middle few inches of the cake will be soft and wiggley but the rise should be complete. The baking will continue when the oven is turned off and the cake allowed to sit.

Note 3. Care should be taken to ensure that the bottom of the springform is not inverted or the cake will be impossible to slide off. A good way to loosen the bottom is to warm a spider grate or range top burner slightly, placed the springform bottom on the burner for about 30 seconds to loosen the crust from the metal bottom. The spatulas should then slide under the cake. Be careful not to overheat the range top, just maintain a warm-to-the-touch surface.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: RECIPE: Ricotta (Italian) Cheesecake

Sounds like a wonderful recipe & great details; will give it a try very soon. Thanks for posting it.
Lucy


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RE: RECIPE: Ricotta (Italian) Cheesecake...

May it yesterday, the dessert for company last night. It was wonderful!

Lucy


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RE: RECIPE: Ricotta (Italian) Cheesecake

Lucy,

For a fellow New Yorker, let me know how you made out, any details would be appreciated. Did you use the ban marie and maintain the oven temp at 325 degrees? The top should not have cracks but be smooth and evenly browned. It varies with my attempts. I'm still playing with this recipe, but the techniques are pretty much as I've outlined.

How about the crust? Did it remain crunchy?

Topo


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RE: RECIPE: Ricotta (Italian) Cheesecake

Topo,
Hey neighbor, I'm Westchester County, Harrison area. To answer your questions, yes I did use the ban marie & baked it at 325 degrees as per your directions. It baked beautifully, no cracks and yes it was evenly browned; & the crust was wonderful with addition of the melted chocolate to seal the crust, that was a great idea, & even though it wasn't much chocolate, it added to the cake.

I made no adjustments to your recipe, didn't feel any were needed and still feel that way after making; I was very happy with the results. The taste & texture were very nice, and I had no leftovers. A few of my quests had seconds. That says a lot!! Wish I had taken a photo, next time.

Lucy


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RE: RECIPE: Ricotta (Italian) Cheesecake

Lucy,

Westchester County also (is there another one?), Tarrytown area. Glad to hear of your success. I'm playing with changing the citrus flavor slightly with pomegranate liqueur of all things. I tasted some for the first time at a friend's house and was knocked out. I'm a bit hesitant, don't know how it will work with lemon. My wife feels it's gilding a lily. What's your opinion?

Topo


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RE: RECIPE: Ricotta (Italian) Cheesecake

Topo,
Truly a neighbor, Tarrytown is minutes away from work for me.
Pomegrante liqueur, very interesting bet that was a WOW factor, sounds abosulety wonderful to say the least. The one you tasted did it have any lemon in as well?

Think I would try mixing a small amount of lemon & the promegrante into a very small amount of Ricotta & then do the same w/out the lemon & taste. Although it's not the same as the cake batter, (I can't eat anything w/raw eggs, so no batter for me) you maybe able to judge what flavor to go for..

Lucy


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RE: RECIPE: Ricotta (Italian) Cheesecake

Lucy,

Good way to tell if those flavor are compatible, thanks. I'll try your suggestion today. Report back later.

The thing is, when flavors are combined, the heating can change them considerably. Next week we have a dinner party here (I do all the cooking in these confines) and I'll try this out if all goes well.

Topo


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RE: RECIPE: Ricotta Cheesecake

Your right, the heating will change the flavor. So how about microwaving, cool, & taste when cold???

Lucy


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RE: RECIPE: Ricotta (Italian) Cheesecake

As an aside, that pomegranate liqueur is called Pama. I believe there may only be one major mfgr. Not certain. It's not an extremely expensive one, maybe $23-$24 thereabouts in the Westchester area. But it has a startling flavor.

My opinion though, and it's worth what your paying for it.

Topo


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RE: RECIPE: Ricotta (Italian) Cheesecake

Topo,
I have not tasted the pomegranate liqueur yet & can only image that it's terrific, I'll look for it. Topo, if you click onto my name above, or "my page" you'll be able to email me where we can continue this conversation, if you choose to.

Lucy


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RE: RECIPE: Ricotta (Italian) Cheesecake

Topo,
How's the experiment coming along?

Lucy


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RE: RECIPE: Ricotta (Italian) Cheesecake

Well, just now I ran into this one on the net, it uses a pomegranate sauce, so I guess I'm a day late and a dollar short:

http://homecooking.about.com/od/dessertrecipes/r/blc68.htm

And there now seem to be many recipes floating around for Italian cheesecakes. That's me I guess: a leader in catching up.

Topo


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RE: RECIPE: Ricotta Cheesecake

Isn't that always the case, I'll check out the link later.

I've been searching & experimenting with a recipe myself. Have a cousin who will not give up a recipe for almond tarts.

I've searched high & low, the most comon is a frangipani, which is not, but she made have added something to alter it.. What I do know, is that it has almond paste in the filling and that's about all. After tasting this little gem, my first thought that there was something similar in taste to a Sfogliatelle filling. I'll keep looking.

Lucy


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RE: RECIPE: Ricotta (Italian) Cheesecake

[I've been searching & experimenting with a recipe myself. Have a cousin who will not give up a recipe for almond tarts.]

There's a problem there with low self-esteem, if my pop-psychology degree isn't failing me. Your cousin may need to see someone. It would seem to the likes of me, that sharing a cooking discovery with friends and family is a joy.

But that's just me.

As for sfogliatelle fillings, they're usually sweetened ricotta-based thingies, and one can add almonds or the paste, and citrus, whatever. The secret ingredient from your cousin you may have to extract by hypnosis or worse. You can check the torture newsgroups for techniques. :)

HTH

Topo


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RE: RECIPE: Ricotta (Italian) Cheesecake

Topo,
I've looked over the link, I think I would try your original recipe w/o the lemon, use the pomegranate liqueur for the flavoring, with the option of the Pomegranate Sauce, it would make a great presentation. I will try that way when I next make it.

Totally agree w/you about sharing recipes, can you image if recipes weren't shared, porridge might still be the staple in our daily menus.

I know for a fact that someone gave her that tart recipe; I just dont know who. In fact, while out w/friends one evening this topic came up and there was a women in the group knew exactly what I was talking about, she had the recipe but someone stole her personal cookbook with that recipe in it, maybe it was MY COUSIN!!!

"You can check the torture newsgroups for techniques" LOL !!

I have 3 recipes I want to work with; one w/a small amount of ricotta, another w/a small amount of amaretti cookies crushed in the batter, and the other escapes me right now. Each different, so I will try my hand at breaking down each recipe into 3rds as each recipe makes approx 40 tarts & I basically just want samples. Who knows may end up with something far better.

Lucy


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RE: RECIPE: Ricotta (Italian) Cheesecake

Lucy,

There ya go! Amaretto liqueur. I'd bet that's just right for the sfogliatelle.

Try making the cheesecake with Pomegranate liqueur and stuffing your cousin's face with it, see if she can guess the secret ingredient. Like the German's say, Also die Wurm krummt sich. The worm turns.

So to speak.

Topo.


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RE: RECIPE: Ricotta Cheesecake

ON THE FLOOR LOL!!

She's not a great baker, outside of those tarts (they make her feel imporant, cause she will not give to anyone). Her personal brownie's are her claim to fame or so she thinks, I've have had far better. On the other hand, she can't even come close to the confections that come out of my kitchen.

My daughter & I develop recipes all the time, as she wants to open a bakery in the future with original recipes (by word of mouth, the customer base is growing) so some recipes may not be given out, but will gladly give an alternate; and if the bakery doesn't materialize it'll be a free for all..

Lucy


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RE: RECIPE: Ricotta (Italian) Cheesecake

Follow up: I've made the cheesecake again using Pama pomegranate liqueur. I drained the ricotta overnight at room temp to eliminate as much water as possible, and used 1/4C of the liqueur in the batter. Also used the lemon zest but not the orange zest.

Results: There is a very delicate background flavor of the liqueur flavor, not pronounced enough to warrant another try, no WOW factor here unfortunately. I'll stick with the original recipe unless lucy or someone else has interesting thoughts.

Topo


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RE: RECIPE: Ricotta (Italian) Cheesecake

Hey Topo,
here's a link that you may find helpful

Here is a link that might be useful: pomegrante flavoring


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RE: RECIPE: Ricotta (Italian) Cheesecake

Topo,
I have thought of something that could work better than the extract, after second look I don't care for the ingredients in the extract. click on to my name & you'll be able to email me, you won't see the address but I'll get it just the same.
Lucy


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RE: RECIPE: Ricotta (Italian) Cheesecake

As a fellow New Yorker...my thoughts to that Cousin tart maybe shes using marscapone with the almond paste???? I have a niece in law who did the same thing with a crumb cake...of course I was then on a mission...just who I am...of course this BIG secret recipe turned out to be SO SIMPLE it was rediculous and I discovered the secret through help of COOKINGRVC/Sue right here on this forum....I make my version but only for non family events as this is her "singnature" dessert..I myself do not consider a crumb cake a fancy dessert as she does so I let her have 5 minutes of glory until my Italian spread hits the table LOL!!! Shes a good egg though so I dont wanna hurt her feelings,but this is not rocket science.


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RE: RECIPE: Ricotta (Italian) Cheesecake

Eileen,
Your probably right that it's something real simple. I hadn't considered marscapone. What's got me is there was something similar in taste to a Sfogliatelle filling, but that doesn't have almond paste in it. Thanks for your input.

Lucy


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RE: RECIPE: Ricotta (Italian) Cheesecake

Eileen,

Threadjack.

I love trolling, you snagged me anyway. Sounds like you enjoy p**sing contests. Include me out.

However, your thought about marscapone cheese is a cute one. I wonder if that would be an interesting substitute for the heavy cream in the cheesecake. It would eliminate that step - and another dedicated mixer in the procedure. I'm totally cheesecaked-out these days, but the next time - I should live so long eating this stuff - I will make that sub. Thanks for the suggestion.

Topo


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