Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Orange Ricotta Cheesecake with Orange Curd

I would love to have a go-to recipe for cheesecake. It's my sisters favorite dessert, and always seems so fancy (read: difficult and impressive). If I could find an easy, yummy cheesecake, my life might be complete. Ok, slight exaggeration. But it would be nice.

What drew me to this recipe was the simplicity. 5 ingredients for the cheesecake filling! Oh yeah.

Plus CJ raved about the results and said it was the only cheesecake her husband would eat. That sounded pretty darn good to me, to bake I go!

Orange Ricotta Cheesecake
from Cafe Johnsonia

Graham Cracker Crust:

9 full-size graham cracker sheets
6 Tbsp. butter, melted
3 Tbsp. sugar

Place graham cracker sheets in a large Ziploc bag and crush using a rolling pin. Pour the crumbs in to a small mixing bowl. Add the sugar and melted butter. Toss together with a fork until all the crumbs are moist.

Press crumbs into a 9"springform pan. Bake for 10-15 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Prepare filling while crust bakes. Cool completely before using.

Cheesecake Filling:

1 cup sugar
finely grated zest of 1 orange
4 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
3 cups (22 ounces) whole milk ricotta (don't use skim, it won't be as good)

Have all ingredients at room temperature, 68 to 70 degrees.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Place the sugar and zest in a large bowl. Rub the zest and sugar between your fingers until the sugar looks wet and sandy. Add the eggs and beat on high speed until thick and pale yellow, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the vanilla and mix well. Stir in the ricotta cheese.

Scrape the batter into the prepared crust and smooth the top. Bake for 30 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F, and bake until a knife inserted about 2 inches from the edge of the cake comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes more. The center will be softer and the cake will seem to jiggly, but it will set after it has cooled. Let cool completely in the pan on a rack before unmolding. Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours, preferably 24 hours, before serving.

Serve with Orange Curd (recipe below) drizzled over each slice. Cafe Johnsonia also recommends a bitter orange marmalade.

My Notes:
Next time, I will cook the cheesecake in a water bath. I read after the fact that it allows for cheesecake to stay creamy in the middle (ours was a little dry, although I did not try the larger cake), and supposedly prevents the top-center from caving. Overall, both Tim and I liked the cheesecake, we ate the little ramekins, but it wasn't a rave review. His coworker though, who I gave the larger cake to, raved about it and specially loved the orange curd drizzle. So maybe it was just the ramekin cakes that were a bit dry, I need to remake this recipe. We all enjoyed the orange curd, definitely a keeper!

For the ease of baking, I would definitely consider making it again, but I'm still on the hunt for a perfect go-to cheesecake.

Orange Curd
Juice and zest of 2 oranges
2/3 cup granulated white sugar (you can cut back a little on this if the orange is very sweet)
4 tablespoons butter
2 large whole eggs, lightly beaten
dash salt

Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.

In separate bowl, grate orange peel and squeeze juice from oranges. Add sugar and egg. Whisk to combine. Add the melted butter to bowl, and pour everything back into the pan.

Over medium heat, whisk the orange curd constantly until it thickens--sort of like a thin pudding, about 1 to 2 minutes. Remove pan from heat.

Strain orange curd over a clean bowl with a fine mesh strainer (very important!). Enjoy warm or cold.

More cheesecake deliciousness:
- No Bake Cheesecake, from Closet Cooking
- Vanilla Bean Cheesecake Bars, from Baking Bites
- Cheesecake Marbled Brownies, from Rosa's Yummy Yums
- New York Style Cheesecake, from For the Love of Baking

Guten appetit!

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