Ricotta Cheesecake with Strawberries

A very Happy Valentine's Day! :)

The only way cheese is dessert is when it's followed by the word cake.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              - Michele Gorman

Dessert is the favorite part of a meal for many of us and Cheesecakes are and will remain one of the all time favorite desserts. I've made quite a few cheesecakes in the past. In fact, the Wild Blueberry Cheesecake is the most popular recipe on my blog. See the power of Cheesecake? :D

Until now, I've always used cream cheese for my cheesecakes but I was aware that mascarpone, ricotta and cottage cheese are also used. However, one day while I was watching an Italian cooking show on TV, I came across this cheesecake made with Ricotta. When the host and the chef cut through a slice of the cake, I instantly made up my mind to make it. Believe it or not, the most difficult task was to get Ricotta. I tried all the supermarkets near and not so near my place but just couldn't get it (or didn't get a fresh one I would say).

So after I had wasted hours of my precious time, my tube-light lit and I searched through my 'ever growing' collection of books to see if there was a way to make Ricotta at home. And I found it! Yayyyy now I could finally make Ricotta Cheesecake! I made it last week and here's the recipe.

For this recipe, though Ricotta is the major ingredient, I've added a packet of cream cheese as well to provide some structure to the cake. For added deliciousness, I macerated fresh strawberries with sugar and believe me, eating them with the cake just takes it to a whole new level! The strawberries that I used were a little on the sour side. However, if the ones that you are using are sweet, you may want to add a touch of balsamic vinegar to provide a little tartness. As an alternative, you can use any other berries or even a combination of different berries.

It's really hard to pick one....a cheesecake made with cream cheese or one made with ricotta? The former has a silky smooth texture whereas the one made with ricotta has a soft melt in your mouth type of texture. I love both really. I told you it's difficult, didn't I?
Note: Though it's suggested that ricotta cheesecake is best served at room temperature, I like it slightly cold.

Recipe Source: Bakingyummies

Makes one 8 inch cheesecake.

For the Biscuit Base
100 grams / 3.5 ounces hi-fibre digestive biscuits or graham crackers
40 grams / 1.5 ounces unsalted melted butter
1 tablespoon caster or superfine sugar

For the Cheesecake mixture
500 grams / 18 ounces store bought or home made whole milk Ricotta Cheese at room temperature
227 grams / 8 ounces / 1 packet full fat Cream Cheese at room temperature
5 large eggs, separated and at room temperature
250 grams / 9 ounces caster or superfine sugar
3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon regular salt
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

For the Topping
500 grams / 18 ounces fresh strawberries, sliced
2 tablespoons caster or superfine sugar
zest of 1 orange

Preheat oven to 175 degrees C. Butter sides of an 8 inch spring form pan and line the base with parchment paper.

In a food processor or a grinder, pulse the biscuits to fine crumbs. Add the melted butter and the 1 tablespoon caster sugar to the crumbs and pulse until the mixture comes together. Press this mixture onto the bottom of the spring form pan and bake for 10 to 15 mins or until golden brown. Place the pan on a wire rack to cool.

Reduce the oven temperature to 165 degrees C. Keep a pan full of water on low flame.

In a stand mixer on medium speed with the paddle attachment, process the ricotta cheese and cream cheese till it is soft and creamy(1-2 mins).

Reduce the speed to low. Remove 5 tablespoons sugar from the total weight (250 grams) and keep aside. Add the remaining sugar and beat until combined. Scrape the bowl as and when required. Add the egg yolks and beat until well mixed. Add salt, lemon juice and vanilla extract and mix.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until foamy. Raise speed to high, and gradually add the reserved 5 tablespoons sugar, whisking until stiff, glossy peaks form, 3 to 4 minutes. Gently fold one third of the whites into ricotta mixture, using a flexible spatula, until just combined. Gently fold in remaining whites until just combined.

Wrap the spring form pan till the edges thoroughly with aluminium foil(I wrap the pan twice till the edge for extra protection). Keep the pan in a roasting dish. Pour batter into prepared pan.

Fill the roasting dish with the boiling water till it reaches about halfway up the pan. Place the roasting dish in the oven and bake the cheesecake till it is golden brown and still a little soft in the center(about 45 mins to an hour).

Transfer to a wire rack and as soon as you can handle it without burning your fingers, remove the foil and let the cake cool completely in the tin. Now run a knife or a spatula along the edges of the cheesecake. Remove the side of the pan.

While the cake is cooling, tip in the sliced strawberries in a bowl, add the sugar, orange zest and mix. Let rest for about half an hour. Once the cake is completely cool, strain the strawberries through a colander to remove the excess liquid. Arrange the strawberries on the cheesecake in whatever way you like. Cut and serve!

Storage Suggestions: Ricotta Cheesecake when covered keeps well in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Top with the berries only before serving.

Happy Baking!!!

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