My daughters adore cheesecake. Usually I make a traditional New York Style cheesecake for them whenever they want. But if I want to make a cheesecake that has a little more flavor…that is just a little more unique, I turn to this family recipe for Ricotta Cheesecake.
In my house growing up, we only had this cheesecake on the holidays. But I find myself making this wonderful rich and creamy dessert quite often. The addition of ricotta to what is normally a cream cheese based filling, really gives this cake a different, lighter texture. And the addition of almond extract, cherries and orange zest give it a very sophisticated flavor. Remember, the key to a perfectly baked cheesecake is leaving it in the oven with the oven turned off at the end of the cooking time.
For the Crust
- 1 ½ Cups graham cracker crumbs
- 2 Tablespoons sugar
- 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
For the Filling
- 3 (8-ounce) Packages Cream Cheese, room temperature
- 12 Ounces whole milk ricotta, room temperature
- 1 ¼ Cups sugar
- 4 Extra large eggs, room temperature
- 1 Teaspoon almond extract (optional)
- 1 Teaspoon vanilla extract (if not using the almond extract, use 2 teaspoons of vanilla)
- 2 Tablespoons drained, chopped maraschino cherries
- 1 Tablespoon orange zest
- 1 Tablespoon lemon zest
- 4 Ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped (such as Ghirardelli)
- 1 ½ Teaspoons flour
- 6 Ounces bittersweet chocolate
- 6 Ounces heavy cream
To Make the Crust
Mix the graham cracker crumbs with the sugar and butter and press the mixture into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan.
Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes, until the crust turns golden.
Remove from the oven and cool completely on a wire rack.
The Elegant Occasion Note: If you prefer a chocolate crust, simply use crushed chocolate wafer cookies in place of the graham crackers).
To Make the Filling
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment whip the cream cheese, ricotta and sugar.
Add the eggs one at a time, making sure each egg is thoroughly mixed in before adding the next.
Add the extracts and both zests.
Remove the mixer from the stand and stir in the cherries.
Place the chopped chocolate in a small bowl and toss it with the flour (this will ensure that the chocolate pieces do not sink to the bottom of the cheesecake).
Pour the entire bowl of chocolate pieces (with the flour) into the cheesecake batter and stir to incorporate.
Pour the batter into the pan.
Bake at 350 for 10 minutes, and then reduce the oven temperature to 300 and bake for another 30-40 minutes (depending on your oven), or until the center of the cheesecake jiggles slightly when the pan is moved.
Turn the oven off, and leave the cheesecake in the oven with the door cracked open for 20minutes.
Remove the cheesecake from the oven and let it rest on a cooling rack for one hour.
While the cheesecake cools, make the topping.
To Make the Topping
Place the chocolate and heavy cream in a bowl and microwave for 40 seconds.
Remove the bowl from the microwave, and let the mixture sit for a minute or two, then stir the mixture until smooth.
Drizzle the ganache on top of the cheesecake (I like to take a fork and dip it into the chocolate, then move the fork over the top of the cheesecake in a “to-and-fro” motion to make a cool pattern. Regardless of how you do it, the taste will be delicious!
Refrigerate the cheesecake for a minimum of four hours.
The Elegant Occasion Note: This cheesecake will remain fresh for up to 4 days, as long as it is stored in the refrigerator and covered well with plastic wrap.
The Elegant Occasion Beverage Pairing: Sauterne (sweet dessert wine) or Champagne.