This light, ethereal Italian cheesecake will not disappoint. Unlike the New York style cheesecake which traditionally uses only cream cheese, the Italian version includes sour cream for tang and ricotta for lightness as well as cream cheese for structure. The citrus zest is a must.
This cheesecake was inspired by one served in the 1990s in a little northern Italian restaurant in Greenwich Village called New Port Alba. It’s both rich and delicate. You can serve it with a few fresh berries or a fresh fruit coulis and a dollop of whipped cream. Just don’t overwhelm the luscious cheesecake.
Vanilla Wafer Crust
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
20 vanilla wafers (Nilla is a good choice)
1 T sugar
4 oz. butter, melted
Tightly cover the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan with a piece of heavy duty aluminum foil. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the wafers and sugar. Process until the wafers are fine crumbs. Drizzle butter into the crumb mixture. Pulse to combine. Press this mixture into the bottom and up the sides of the pan.. Place in the oven on the middle rack and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool completely.
1 lb. whole milk ricotta cheese
1 lb. sour cream
1 lb. cream cheese (or mascarpone)
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
1 stick sweet butter, melted
Pinch of salt
3 large eggs
3 T flour
3 T cornstarch
1 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 ½ T pure vanilla extract
¼ t fiori di sicilia (optional)*
Finely grated zest from one orange and one lemon
Have all filling ingredients at room temperature.
In a large mixing bowl beat together ricotta, sour cream and cream cheese until well mixed. Beat in sugar and then melted butter and pinch of salt. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour, cornstarch, lemon juice, vanilla, fiori di sicilia and zest, beating until completely mixed.
Lower oven heat to 300 degrees. Transfer to prepared pan and bake for one hour. Turn off heat and let cake stay in oven, door closed, for another hour. Remove and let cake cool completely in pan, set on a wire rack. Cover and refrigerate. Remove sides of pan and serve slightly chilled. If you want to dress up the cheesecake with a delicious coulis, here’s the recipe:
In a small saucepan, mash and heat ½ pint of fresh raspberries with 6 oz. raspberry preserves and 1 T Grand Marnier, stirring until syrupy. Strain syrup and mix with ½ pint fresh raspberries. Serve with cheesecake
*fiori di sicilia-an intense vanilla and citrus flavoring available online from King Arthur Flour.
Photographer Bill Brady http://bit.ly/9wFYxm