Italian Ricotta Cheesecake

Lighter than New York Style cheesecake, the following recipe is more in the European tradition of light and subtly sweet.  This was the first exposure I had to cheesecake when I was a child as it was sold in the neighborhood bakery.

1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons flour
3 Tablespoons sugar
6 Tablespoons butter
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 pound ricotta cheese
1/2 pound cream cheese
3 Tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
grated zest of 1/2 lemon
2 eggs
4 egg whites
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup crushed pineapple, drained
1.    Preheat oven to 300F and butter the bottom and sides of a 10″ spring form pan.

2.    Place the flour and sugar in a processor and pulse on and off to combine.  Cut the butter into 6 pieces and add to the work bowl.  Pulse the machine until the mixture looks like coarse meal.

3.    Combine the egg and the vanilla in a small dish and add it to the work bowl with the processor running.  As soon as a ball of dough begins to form, stop the processor and remove the dough.

4.    Roll the dough 1/4 inch thick and, using the bottom of the pan as a pattern, cut out a 10 inch circle.  Place the dough in the pan, prick it with a fork, and then bake for 15 minutes.  Cool.

5.    Drain the ricotta and place the 2 cheeses in the processor work bowl and process until mixture is smooth.  Add the flour, salt, vanilla, lemon zest and 2 eggs and process until smooth.  Pour into a bowl.

6.    In another bowl, beat the egg whites with the sugar until stiff, but shiny.  Fold into the cheese mixture.

7.    Spread the drained, crushed pineapple over the crust and gently pour the cheese mixture over the pineapple.  Bake for 45 minutes or until cake is fairly set.  Cool and serve.

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