Here’s a recipe that I worked up for soundfood. It has recently been tested by a reliable group of foodies and dessert lovers. Enjoy!
Ricotta cheesecake is a lovely way to showcase your homemade cheese. Never made cheese? Well, ricotta is a good place to start. It’s easy to do and the flavor far exceeds any store-bought product. If you arrive at a holiday party with this dessert, it’s sure to invoke ‘oohs and ahhs.’ For a refreshing taste of summer during this dark month, pair it with a sauce made from some of those precious blackberries that you may have stashed in your freezer.
1 gallon whole milk
1 tsp. citric acid
1/4 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 pounds fresh whole milk ricotta cheese
6 large eggs, separated
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
finely grated orange or lemon zest (optional
1/4 tsp. salt
Begin by making your ricotta. Mix 1 tsp. citric acid into 1/4 cool cup of water and stir to dissolve. Add one gallon of whole milk and this citric acid mixture to a heavy pot. (You can make ricotta with a lower fat milk, but the yield will be much higher with whole milk.) Heat, stirring often, to 185F. Remove from heat and allow to sit for 10 minutes. Place a colander in a large bowl and line it with cheesecloth. Ladle your curds into your cloth. Then, tie the corners to create a bag shape. Hang your cheese for about 1 hour. (Usually ricotta is hung for about 30 minutes, but you want it to be drier for this cake recipe.)
After you have removed your cheese from the cloth, begin to assemble the cake. Preheat the oven to 375F. Butter a 9-inch springform pan and sprinkle bottom and sides with sugar.
In a large bowl, whisk the ricotta, egg yolks 6 tbls. of sugar, zest, and salt until smooth. Set aside.
With an electric mixer, whisk egg whites on low speed until foamy. Increase the mixer to high and gradually add the remaining 6 tbls. of sugar.After about 3 minutes, the egg whites become stiff a glossy.
Gently fold in the egg whites into the ricotta mixture. Spoon into the prepared pan and smooth the top with the back of a spoon or rubber spatula. Bake for about 50 minutes to 1 hour. Test to see if a toothpick comes out clean after about 45 minutes, as this cake can rapidly go from perfect to too dark. (It’s ok if it still jiggles a little bit. As long as the toothpick is clean, your cake is done.) Cool in the pan and then refrigerate until it is time to enjoy!
-All the supplies (citric acid, cheesecloth, cheese thermometer) can be found by visiting the cheese queen.
-For blackberry sauce, add about one cup of blackberries to a saucepan, sprinkle with sugar, and simmer on low until mushy. Run through your food mill for a seedless affair or press through a strainer with the back of a spoon.
-For a large group, I like to serve this next to next to a flourless chocolate cake (recipe also found in the Gourmet cookbook). The blackberry sauce is a wonderful topping for both desserts.