For a get-together that my family is having today, I was tasked with making a dessert for it. I could've made a cake, but thats a little boring and not everyone likes cake. I could make a cream pie, but once again, kinda boring, and we have it a lot anyway. Then I thought back a while, to when I had had a great cheesecake at a family friend's house. It was not a traditional New York cheesecake. It was and Italian cheesecake, much lighter than a New York, and had a different flavor, that I can't really describe. So I decided to try my hand at making one for myself.
Step 1: Gather Everything!
Now, making an Italian cheesecake is much easier than you think. My recipe consists of only 8 ingredients:
- 2 pounds of ricotta cheese (I was able to buy it from Safeway for $6)
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- the zest of one large orange
- 2 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup flour
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 6 eggs
The cheesecake is topped with 6 caramelized orange slices. All you need for this is 6 thin slices of orange, about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick, all roughly the same size (You only need one orange to do this), and sugar. WIth the slices of orange, make sure that you keep the rind on them. This adds to the flavor.
Step 2: Mix It All Up
WIth this cheesecake, you need to mix it by hand. It does not have the same texture as if you mixed it with a mixer.
Start off by putting all of the ricotta in a bowl, and stirring it with a spatula until it is as smooth as you can make it (by nature, ricotta is kind of a grainy (for lack of a better word) cheese. It is most often used in lasagna). Fold the flour and sugar into it thoroughly. Now stir the eggs in until smooth, and mix in the vanilla, zest, cinnamon, and salt.
Step 3: Bake It
Now preheat the oven to 300F. You need to grease and flour a 10 inch springform pan (the springform because that way it is easier to take the cake out of the pan). Pour the batter into the pan, and bake in the oven for 1h 15m. When it is done, it should be firm, and fairly springy to the touch. When a sharp knife or toothpick is inserted, it should come out clean.
(Sorry, I forgot to take a picture after it came out of the oven, before the orange slices. No pic for this step)
Step 4: Caramelizing the Oranges
This step is very easy. To caramelize the orange slices, dip both sides of each slice in sugar. Then put them in a sautee pan that has been put on medium heat. Cook them on one side until they start to get a little bit of color to them, just a little golden brown color. Then flip them over, and cook them until just before they get color, when they have just specks of caramelizing to them. The first side is for flavor and texture, and the second side is for presentation. In total, they should only have to cook for a few minutes.
Arrange the slices on top of the cake, in kind of a pinwheel pattern, as you can see in the pic. Top with a light dusting of powdered sugar, and you're done! Enjoy this light, flavorful cheesecake.
If you have any questions, feel free to ask!