Friday, May 7, 2010

Delicious adventures in cheesecake!

Momma's birthday was on the 5th of May. And mother's day is coming up this weekend. I wanted to make her a cake of some sort. But apparently so did everyone else. One of her co-workers is making her a tasty birthday cake of some sort. Honestly, I can't remember what kind of cake it's supposed to be, but Momma seemed to be very excited about it. Regardless, I'm the cook/baker around here that hasn't been doing much baking as of late. This was a great excuse to change that. I suggested a few kinds of cakes that I could make, including her favorite carrot cake, but when I said, "ricotta cheesecake" I had her attention.

I've made something similar in the past with my own tweaks, of course. They were mini cheesecakes made in muffin tins. They were delicious, but I needed to find a recipe that would fit my needs a bit better. I've seen a few Food Network personalities make a ricotta cheesecake, so that was the first place on the Internet I searched. I found a recipe by Giada DeLaurentiis that interested me. I figured out how I was going to change it and add my own twist to it, then set off for the grocery store.

I returned with an armful of goodies for the cheesecake including some very beautiful strawberries! {/tangent} It's that time of year! It's nearing summer and here in the south, the berry season is starting. We just got a notice from our local Berry Farm that strawberries are in and ready to be picked! This is the best time of year for produce. My garden is starting to look wonderful, the farmer's markets will be in full-swing soon, and we get notices from the berry farms that things are ready to be picked! {tangent} I got everything to the kitchen and put in it's proper placed. Then I gathered my ingredients and made the following recipe:

2, 8 oz. packages of cream cheese (at room temperature)
1, 12 oz. container of ricotta cheese
1/4 C of clover or orange blossom honey
3/4 C granulated sugar
2 tsp orange, lime, or lemon zest
4 eggs
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
8 oz. Biscotti cookies

9 inch spring-form pan
9 inch parchment circle (optional)
Aluminum foil
Large roasting pan
Boiling water

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a food processor*, finely grind the biscotti cookies. Add the melted butter to the cookie crumbs and mix thoroughly. The mixture should be slightly moist. Place the crumb and butter mixture into the bottom of a lined spring-form pan and press down to even out the crust. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes. Allow to cool completely.

Meanwhile, with a hand or stand mixer**, blend the ricotta until smooth and creamy. It will still have the normal texture of ricotta, but needs to be smoothed a bit for better blending. Add the 2 blocks of room temperature cream cheese and blend completely. Be sure to stop the mixer occasionally and scrape down the sides of the bowl so all ingredients mix properly. Next, add the sugar and citrus zest. When those ingredients are incorporated, add the honey. Lastly, add the eggs and mix until just combined.

Wrap the outside of the spring-form pan with foil. This will keep water from seeping into the cheesecake. Pour the cheesecake mixture into the pan with the cooled crust. Place the spring-form pan into the larger roasting pan and place it on a middle oven rack. Pour the boiling water into the ROASTING PAN until it is about an inch and a half deep creating a water bath. This helps ensure more even baking and will hopefully give you a beautiful cheesecake with no cracks in the top. (Unfortunately, mine had a few small cracks. It'll still taste good!) Bake in the 350 degree oven for about an hour and five minutes. The cheesecake should have a very light golden hue and should jiggle slightly in the middle. Take the cheesecake out of the hot water bath and place it on a cooling rack for about an hour. After that, refrigerate for about 6 hours or over night. After the cheesecake is set and chilled completely, slice it and enjoy! Serving this with fresh fruit or a little bit of a fruit preserves would be delicious.

The great thing about using ricotta is that this isn't a super sweet cheesecake. It can also be adapted for a low fat diet. You could use part skim ricotta and reduced fat (or fat free) cream cheese. Using Splenda instead of sugar would also help cut some calories and fat.

See? I can share.

*If you don't have a food processor or a way to mechanically grind these, you can simply place them in a plastic baggy and beat the hell out of them with a mallet, rolling pin, or (if you have serious rage) your hand.
**You can also do this by hand if you're insane and want your shoulder to hurt the following day. If you have neither a hand mixer or a stand mixer, might I also suggest using the food processor again.


1 comment:

  1. Mmm, sounds delicious. I will be brave and try to do this!


I'd love to hear from you!