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
ITALIAN RICOTTA CHEESECAKE
Torta di Ricotta by Giuilano Hazan
Prep Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 6 hours
- FOR THE PASTRY CRUST
- 2 Cups All purpose flour, plus extra for rolling the crust
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3 large egg yolks
- 1 grated zest of lemon
- pinch salt
- Preheat the oven to 350 on the regular bake setting.
- Put the 2 cups flour, sugar, butter, egg yolks, lemon zest, and salt in a food processor and run the processor until mixed well together. If the mixture is too dry, add cold water 1 tablespoon at a time until the mixture forms a smooth dough when you roll it between your fingers.
- Transfer the dough to a counter and orm into a smooth ball. Remove the bottom of a 2-inch-deep, 9-inch-diameter tart pan or a 9-inch springform pan and put it in the center of your work counter. Sprinkle a little four on the counter around the edges of the pan bottom and place the dough in the middle of the pan bottom. Flatten the dough a bit with your hands, then use a rolling pin to roll it out 1/8 inch thick. Loosen the edges that extend past the pan bottom with a pastry scraper, then use the scraper to lift the pan bottom and the dough. Carefully lower into the ring of the tart or springform pan. Patch any tears or holes, making sure the dough comes all the way up the sides. Cut off any excess dough at the top. Lightly press a sheet of sluminum foil over the dough and cover with pie weights or dried beans. Put the pan on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Remove the foil and weights, return the crust to the oven, and bake until very lightly browned, about 10 minutes.
ITALIAN RICOTTA CHEESECAKE
Torta di Ricotta By Giuliano Hazan. The pie will keep in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days.
- FOR THE FILLING
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 large egg
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespooons 10x confectioner\'s sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups whole milk
- 2 cups (1 pound) whole-milk ricotta
- 2 tablespoons chopped candied citron (optional)
- While the pie crust is baking, make the ricotta filling. Whip the egg, egg yok, and granulated sugar in an electic mixer on high speed until the mixture is smooth and pale yellow. Add the flour, confectioner\'s sugar, and vanilla and mix until homogeneous. Slowly pour in the milk while whisking on medium-low speed. Add the ricotta and mix throughly. Stir in the candied citron by hand with a rubber spatula.
- After the crust is done, raise the oven temperature to 375.
- Pour the ricotta filling into the pie crust and bake until the filling is firm and begins to brown on top, about 11/4 hours. Test by jiggling the pan gently. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack. Regrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight before serving. Serve chlled.