Before making my mother’s lemon-ricotta cheesecake earlier this month, I hadn’t made a cheesecake in years. And I’m not sure why — it is the easiest dessert to make; it can be made a day in advance; it feeds many people; and people generally love it, especially this one, made with both ricotta and mascarpone, both lemon juice and zest.
A simple cookie crumb dusting of the pan allows this cheesecake to come together in no time, and its silky texture somehow tastes both rich and light at the same time. A small slice will suffice though it’s nearly impossible to resist seconds.
I hope all of your holiday preparations are going well, Everyone.
These are the cookies my mother always uses for her cookie crusts — they are so good and made with seven ingredients all of which you can pronounce: flour, butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla, salt, baking soda:
The lemon zest is key in this cheesecake — it complements the ricotta so nicely and just adds a lovely bright flavor.
Ready for its water bath:
More Easter ideas here.
- 3 lbs. whole milk fresh ricotta, (low-fat won't work here; Calabro brand, sold at Whole Foods, is nice)
- 1 tablespoon butter, softened
- ¼ cup grated or smashed cookie of choice, Jules Detrooper butter waffles are so good
- 1 teaspoon plus 1½ cups sugar
- 1 cup mascarpone
- 6 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- Place ricotta in a sieve over a bowl and let drain for 1 hour.
- Triple wrap the bottom and sides of 3x10-inch springform pan with aluminum foil. Butter the sides, bottom and rim of pan. Mix the smashed or grated cookie crumbs with 1 teaspoon sugar and coat the pan.
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Fill a teapot with water and bring to a boil. Place the mascarpone in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until light. Transfer to a small bowl; then add ricotta and lemon zest to bowl of electric mixer. Beat at low speed until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time until smooth. Beat in the remaining 1½ cups sugar. Continue to beat until mixture is very smooth. Beat in the mascarpone, vanilla and lemon juice. Pour into the pan and smooth the top.
- Place the pan inside a roasting pan whose sides are not higher than the cake pan. Open oven and pull rack out halfway — make sure it's stable. Place pan on rack, then pour in the boiling water from the teapot into the larger pan to within 1 inch of the top of the smaller pan. Bake for one hour and 15 minutes. Test with finger — the top should spring back a bit. Give the pan a shake — if the batter ripples under the surface too much, it probably needs more time. It should be slightly golden on top.Note: Cooking times will vary dramatically depending on your oven, the pan you are using for the water bath and what type of fresh ricotta you are using. Start checking at 1 hour and 15 minutes.
- Remove and let cool to room temperature in the water bath. Refrigerate overnight or for at least 4 hours before serving. It will firm up as it rests.
- To unmold, slide a thin knife around the cake edges. Release the sides of the springform pan. Refrigerate until serving.