Cheesecake has made the top 10 list of the recipes :: ricette most searched for on the internet by the Italians in 2013. The rest of the list contained Italian recipes; this delicious dessert was the only foreign outsider. This doesn’t surprise me, however. Italians are obsessed :: ossesionato with this rich and smooth sweet. How could anyone not be though? This is one dessert that brings a decadent grand finale to any meal.
Making this delicacy is quite a ruse; it looks hard to do but it’s easy as cake….cheesecake that is. Mu..ha..ha…ha…Ok, maybe that sounded funnier in my head :: testa. Sometimes I just can’t resist a good food pun. Back to the point at hand. Cheesecake looks gourmet but there really is not a lot of fuss going into making this dessert. I’ve listed 10 tips on how to make a perfect cheesecake under the recipe below. Although, all are important, I would just like to stress one particularly: use room temperature ingredients. This will allow the ingredients to blend together better producing a more uniform and smoother cheesecake. Although some recipes call for a hand mixer or stand mixer, I prefer to mix in all the ingredients :: ingredienti by hand to better control how much I stir the mixture since over mixing after the eggs are added will incorporate air and could be a cause of cracking during the cooling period. (And, frankly you get tired of mixing by hand so there’s less chance of over mixing.)
I wanted to try incorporating Italy’s delicious local cheeses :: formaggi into this recipe, so I decided to experiment with a three cheese blend: ricotta, goat cheese and cream cheese. The result was a smooth and creamy cheesecake.
I know many recipes call for a water bath when cooking the cheesecake; however, I didn’t use one and this recipe came out perfectly cooked without cracks. Just bake from 45-60 minutes, the center will jiggle. Just like Jello, the jiggle is important here. I then let the cheesecake cool in the oven :: forno for an hour, took it out and set it on a cooling rack at which point I carefully ran a knife along the inside edge of the springform pan so that during the cooling process when the cheesecake slightly shrinks it doesn’t strain and crack by the crust being stuck to the sides. Let it cool down on the rack for 2-3 hours before transferring to the refrigerator :: frigorifero.
Cheesecake is perfect :: perfetto for the creative cook. There are so many interesting and delicious modifications you can make depending on your mood, seasonal ingredients and type of presentation. Maybe you want to mix it up and use a chocolate cookie base or marble in swirls to the filling with a salted caramel sauce? Or, what about using fresh fruit :: frutta from your garden or the local market? I love presenting cheesecake in different ways, like my Blueberry Cheesecake Cupcakes that I made for Mr. Italicano’s birthday lunch. What are your favorite cheesecake combinations ?
The slightly tart flavor of the blood orange pairs well with strawberries :: fragole to create a not overly sweet topping that is fresh and delicious. I find that most toppings don’t need the extra sugar and that they are better all natural. If your taste buds need more sweetness, however, just add 1/4 to 1/2 cup granulated sugar :: zucchero. Any leftover topping can be stored in the fridge and drizzled over pancakes, waffles, crepes or ice cream.
10 Tips to Get your Cheesecake to Come Out Perfectly.
1. Generously grease the bottom and sides of the springform pan before adding the crust.
2. Put the crust in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or freezer for 10 before adding the filling.
3. Be sure that ingredients are at room temperature. Take them out of the refrigerator 1/2 hour before you start making the filling. If you forgot, and you need to quickly bring the cheeses to room temperature, place the cheese (one variety at a time) in a microwave safe dish and microwave on high for 5-20 seconds. To bring eggs to room temperature quickly, place them in a bowl with warm water for 5-10 minutes.
4. You can mix the filling together as much as you want BEFORE you add the eggs; however, as soon as you add the eggs and flour, mix until just combined. Excessive beating will create air pockets that could cause the cheesecake to crack during the cooling process.
5. Don’t open the oven door during the baking process.
6. When the cheesecake is done the outside border should be rigid and the center should jiggle in the middle when the pan is slightly shaken.
7. Let the cheesecake cool directly in the oven for 1 hour before cooling on a baking rack.
8. Run a knife along the edge when you take the cheesecake out of the oven to help prevent cracking during the cooling process.
9. Cool at least 2-3 hours on a baking rack, and 5-6 hours in the refrigerator. However, the cheesecake will be even better if you let it cool overnight.
10. Wait to garnish the cheesecake until right before serving.
- 2½ cups (300g) graham crackers
- ½ cup (120g) butter, melted
- ½ tsp (2g) cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon (21g) all natural maple syrup
- 1 cup (250g) ricotta, drained, at room temperature
- ⅔ cup (140g) goat cheese, at room temperature
- 3 cups (750g) original cream cheese (not light), at room temperature
- ½ cup (150g) greek yogurt, room temperature
- ½ cup (125g) plain yogurt, room temperature
- 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon (2g) lemon zest (1/4 to ½ of lemon, depending on size)
- Seeds from 1 vanilla bean
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 4 eggs, at room temperature
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 14oz (400g) fresh or frozen strawberries, hulled
- 1 blood orange, rind removed and chopped
- 3 mint leaves + more for decoration
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- Finely grind graham crackers in a blender then pour into a medium sized bowl.
- Add the melted butter, cinnamon and maple syrup and stir until combined.
- Press the mixture into a generously buttered 9½ inch (24 cm) springform pan and distribute evenly along the bottom as well as up the sides leaving an inch or so from the top of the rim. Place in the refrigerator for ½ hour or freezer for 10 minutes.
- Heat the oven to 325 f (160 C) and arrange the rack in the middle of the oven.
- Using a large spoon, combine the ricotta, goat cheese, cream cheese, greek yogurt, sugar, lemon zest, vanilla bean seeds and nutmeg. Mix well.
- Stir in the eggs one at a time then the flour and mix until just combined. Don’t over mix.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared crust and spread it out evenly. Set the springform pan on a baking sheet and bake for 45-60 minutes. The outside edge will be rigid but the center should jiggle when the pan is gently shaken. Turn the oven off and let the cheesecake cool in the oven for 1 hour.
- Remove from oven, then run a knife on the inside edge of the springform pan. This will help prevent cracking when cooling. Allow the cheesecake to cool on a baking rack for 2-3 hours before transferring it to the refrigerator for another 5-6 hours, although best if cooled overnight.
- In the meantime, puree’ the strawberries, orange and mint leaves in a blender. Pour into a saucepan and add the cornstarch. Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring often. Transfer to airtight container and cool in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before use. (If you want the sauce to be sweeter add ¼-1/2 cup sugar when you add the cornstarch).
- When ready to serve, take out the cheesecake and let it sit at room temperature for 20 minutes. Unlock and remove the outer ring and place the cheese cake on a serving dish keeping the springform pan base still intact. Evenly distribute the blood orange strawberry sauce on top. Slice, decorate with mint leaves, if desired, and serve.
- The cheesecake can be conserved int the refrigerator for 2-3 days. The cheesecake (or slices) can also be frozen for up to 2 months without the topping. Simply wrap with plastic wrap then foil and freeze. Allow the cheesecake/slices to thaw overnight in the refrigerator before serving.