Although for many cheesecake isn’t often associated with Italian cooking, it has been a staple since Roman times. Cato the Elder, in 160 BCE includes two cheesecake recipes that were used for religious rituals. The main difference between what we would consider typical New York American cheesecake and Italian cheesecake is that in Italy, cheesecake is made with ricotta rather than cream cheese. It is also a bit lighter and dryer, more cakelike and less cloying. This recipe combines milk with the ricotta so that the effect is a wonderful creamy texture. I also discovered that Italians do not add any fruit topping to their cheesecakes, though they sometimes add candied citron to the filling. Giuliano wasn’t pleased when I suggested adding strawberries to his ricotta cake recipe that I recently made to celebrate my mother-in-law’s birthday. My father-in-law liked the cake so much he kept going back for more. Later I saw him picking at the cake plate making sure that he had gotten every crumb. I did serve strawberries with the cake, but none of the Italians ate them. In truth, the cake didn’t need them. It was rich and creamy enough on its own.
Cheesecake is always a welcome dish at potlucks. It is also perfect for a mother’s day buffet. It has a homey quality that is great for family & friends get togethers. Most recently we were invited to a birthday celebration of twins who are friends of our daughters. It was a big gathering because they were also celebrating their Bat Mitzvah, and the mother was worried about running out of food as more people were saying they would attend than she had thought. She reached out to friends, including us, and asked us to make “something”. We knew this cheesecake would be celebratory as well as comforting to all. I must admit, I thought that there would be enough leftovers from my mother-in-law’s birthday cake but much to my chagrin (though I was also quite flattered) my father-in-law had not left much to bring anywhere and I had to make a whole new cake. This ricotta cheesecake is airy and smooth and doesn’t make one feel heavy. At the party, it was the first dessert to go –next time I’ll have to make more.
A mother is a person who seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie. ~Tenneva Jordan
On this mother’s day, she can have her cake and eat it too. Remembering all the fabulous mother’s out there. Thank you