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Ricotta Cheesecake Cinnamon Rolls

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I never knew what ricotta was until I met my husband. When I was growing up my mom substituted cottage cheese for anything that called for ricotta. Maybe she wouldn't have if she would have known just how amazingly simple it is to make. And it's fun to watch the transformation from liquid to curdles to a delicious and rich accompaniment to anything Italian.

I have only had ricotta cheesecake once before and remember it like it was yesterday. I have eaten many many desserts in my life and only remember a few that really stood out. Well, the ricotta cheesecake was one of them so I decided that ricotta cheesecake cinnamon rolls would be quite tasty. Turns out I was right!! And, it is a perfect excuse to basically get to eat dessert for breakfast!! Maybe you could eat a bowl of fruit alongside the roll so you don't feel so guilty! Ha!

You will follow four recipes along the way in this instructable:

Ricotta
Dough
Cheesecake Filling
Glaze

I have had this cinnamon roll dough recipe in my recipe box for quite a while and I have no idea where it came from. If you know, please let me know and I will credit that person. The rest of the recipes are mine.

Now, let's get on with the fun!
 
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Step 1: Make the Ricotta

Like I said before, ricotta is more than easy to make. And much cheaper than store bought. Don't be intimidated to try it.

If you aren't interested in the process of making cinnamon rolls serve it with your next Italian dish. You won't be disappointed.

If you want a good explanation of how milk curdles read this article. It's too scientific for me to explain!

Homemade Ricotta
4 c. whole milk
1/2 c. heavy cream
2 T. distilled white vinegar (some people use lemon but I prefer using vinegar)
1 t. salt

You will also need the following items along with the recipe:
cheesecloth
large bowl
large fine sieve or colander

Layer two or three pieces of cheesecloth over colander and place the colander in the large bowl. Set aside.

In a medium sauce over medium high heat add milk, cream and salt. Bring to a boil stirring frequently to avoid scorching.

(Once the mixture is about to boil you will start to see small fat globules come to the surface.)

When mixture comes to a boil reduce heat to medium low, add vinegar and stir. Mixture will immediately curdle. Let simmer for about two minutes and strain over cheesecloth. Voila, you just made ricotta! I told you it was easy!

Let the ricotta cool. When you lift the colander up and out of the drain bowl you will see whey. DO NOT pour this down the drain, you will use it in the next step! Whey is great for any bread dough.

Makes approximately 1 cup of ricotta and 2 1/2 cups whey.

Step 2: Make the Dough

Two acts of transformation will happen in this recipe process - this is an extremely simplified explanation:
1. Yeast feeds on sugar and sugars in flour. The yeast produces enzymes and changes the sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide which spreads and forms bubbles. This gives dough a light and airy texture.
2. Gluten will form when flour is hydrated. Kneading speeds up the process of gluten formation but is not actually necessary. Gluten helps your bread rise, makes it softer and more elastic.

Cinnamon Roll Dough
1 (1/4 oz) pkg active dry yeast
1/2 c. sugar
4-5 c. flour
1/2 t. salt
5 T. butter, melted
1 c. whey
3 eggs

In a large mixing bowl combine yeast, sugar, 3 cups flour and salt. Set aside.

In a microwave safe container melt butter and set aside. In another microwave safe container heat whey to 120-130 degrees F using a thermometer to check for accurate temp. Add melted butter to heated whey.

Mix with dry ingredients and stir in eggs. Add in remaining flour a little at a time until mixture starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl. You may need more or less flour. It is an approximate amount.

Dump dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead adding more flour if necessary. Knead 8-10 minutes. You can do a windowpane test (I learned this from one of Peter Reinhart's books - take small amount of dough and stretch it thin enough that you can see light through it without it tearing. If it tears, keep kneading until it doesn't) to make sure the gluten has released. Do not under-knead. Your dough won't be as elastic.

Cover the dough with a damp cloth and let rise 45 minutes.

While you are waiting - make the filling.

Step 3: Ricotta Cheesecake Filling

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While dough is resting make the filling.

Ricotta Cheesecake Filling
1 c. ricotta
6 oz cream cheese
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. oats
2 1/2 T. cinnamon

In a medium mixing bowl add all ingredients and mix well. Set aside.

Step 4: Roll and Cut

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured large work surface. Roll dough to a 13x9 inch rectangle.

In an even layer spread out filling on top of dough leaving a 1 inch space at one of the ends.

Roll dough starting with one end and pinch the seam together well to seal.

Score and cut log into 12 equal pieces. Arrange in a buttered 9x13 baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap.

Refrigerate overnight.

Step 5: Make the Glaze

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Glaze
2 c. confectioner's sugar
1 T. vanilla extract
3 T. maple syrup
milk to thin

In a small mixing bowl combine all ingredients and stir until smooth. If making the night before (so you don't have any work in the morning) cover and set aside.

Step 6: Final

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In the morning remove rolls from the refrigerator 30 minutes to an hour before baking. The rolls will have risen only slightly.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Bake approximately 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.

Drizzle glaze over warm cinnamon rolls.

Eat and enjoy!
clewis213 years ago
Wow, this is great information! I have always used cottage cheese instead the ricotta my mom used. I am going to try to make it myself sometime. I take it that these kinds of "farmer's cheeses" were quckly made for these kinds of uses. Thanks a lot!
rrkrose3 years ago
These look so good! I really want to make these but they seem very time consuming. You really did deserve to be finalist and I hope you win the contest!
wold630 (author)  rrkrose3 years ago
Thank you. Yes, they are time consuming but delicious! Let me know how you like them if you decide to make them.
rrkrose wold6303 years ago
I am actually making ricotta right now so if I decide to use it for this recipe I will post some pics.
They look so pretty! I bet they're delicious. :D