Are you wondering what to serve for dessert during the holidays? This delicious and beautiful ricotta cheesecake would be perfect on your table, with its festive cranberry topping.
The recipe is from a wonderful cookbook called “Feast of the Seven Fishes” by Daniel Paterna. While the book contains many seafood recipes and is an ode to the Brooklyn neighborhood where Paterna was raised, this showstopper of a cheesecake really captured my attention. It’s shown without any topping in the book, and you could surely enjoy this cake even without any embellishment. Containing ricotta, rather than cream cheese, it’s not at all heavy and it’s easy to make too.
One tip — I didn’t roll out the crust with a rolling pin as the recipe says. I didn’t even refrigerate it for the recommended half hour. Using my hands, I pressed it into a disk over a piece of parchment paper, then kept pushing with my palm and fingers until it reached 14 inches in diameter.
I then lifted the parchment and pressed it into the greased pan. Don’t worry if some breaks off. It’s easily patched together.
Here’s what the cake looks like as I pulled it from the oven. It puffs up a bit from the eggs, but will sink a bit after removal from the oven.
The little recess on top is a perfect nest for the topping, if you choose to add one. I love cranberries and typically have leftover cranberries after Thanksgiving, but you could serve this plain and simply dusted with confectioner’s sugar, or use other fruit — raspberries, strawberries or whatever you like — to crown this beauty. Buone feste!
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- 2 cups all purpose flour, plus extra to dust board and pan
- ¾ cup sugar
- zest of one lemon
- ½ cup unsalted butter, softened, plus extra to grease the pan
- 2 large eggs
- 8 large eggs
- 3 pounds ricotta cheese, drained of excess water
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1½ cups sugar
- zest of 2 oranges
- juice of 1 orange
- juice of 1 lemon
- FOR THE CRANBERRY TOPPING:
- 1 bag of fresh cranberries
- ¾ cup water
- ¾ sugar
- zest of one orange
- ¼ freshly squeezed orange juice
- FOR THE CRANBERRY TOPPING:
- Place the cranberries, water, sugar, orange juice and orange zest in a pan.
- Turn the heat to high and cook until the cranberries are popping and release their juices.
- After about five minutes, remove from heat and refrigerate for a couple of hours, to thicken.
- FOR THE RICOTTA TORTA:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and butter and flour a 10-inch springform pan, then set aside.
- To make the crust, place the flour, sugar and zest on a pastry board or clean, dry flat surface.
- Mix thoroughly to combine.
- Add the butter and work it into the dry ingredients.
- Gather the mixture into a mound and create a well in the center.
- Add the eggs, beating with a fork and grabbing the dry mixture until the dough begins to form.
- Shape into a disk and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make the filling by combining the eggs, ricotta cheese, vanilla, sugar, orange zest, orange juice, lemon juice in a large mixing bowl.
- Mix thoroughly and set aside.
- Remove the dough from the refrigerator and place on a large board or clean, dry flat surface, lightly dusted with flour.
- Using a floured rolling pin (I just used my fingers and palms of my hand and pressed it onto a piece of parchment paper) roll the dough out into a large circle, approximately 14 inches in diameter.
- Now roll the dough over the rolling pin and carefully unwind it over the baking pan, gently easing it to fit evenly in the bottom and up the sides of the pan.
- (I lifted up the parchment paper and placed the dough into the pan. Don't worry if some of it breaks. You can easily patch it.)
- Pour or spoon the filling mixture into the crust, leaving about ¼ inch below the rim of the pan.
- Place the pan in a preheated oven and bake for 1 hour and 45 minutes, until the center is slighy firm.
- Cool for at least 2 hours.
- Spread the cranberry topping over the cake.
- Carefully run a knife or spatula around the sides of the pan to remove it, so that no crust is pulled away when you release the spring of the pan.