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Italian Ricotta Cheesecake with Cookie Crumb Crust

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Italian Ricotta Cheesecake with Cookie Crumb Crust
Penina Meisels Courtesy of Getty Images
This light and delicious recipe for Italian ricotta cheesecake with crumb crust can be made gluten free just by using the gluten free version of gingerbread cookies or a commercial gluten free wafer cookie (readily found in vanilla, cinnamon or dark chocolate, all of which work beautifully). The cheesecake is often made with no crust at all, but I like the combination of creamy and crisp textures. This is a great make-ahead dessert, and is delicious served plain, with berries or with a simple pureed berry coulis.

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 8 gingerbread cookies or biscotti, or ½ pound wafer cookies, broken into pieces
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) organic unsalted butter, melted
  • 1-8-ounce package organic cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1 -16-ounce container fresh organic whole milk ricotta, drained*
  • 2/3 cup coconut palm or raw sugar
  • 1/3 cup mild honey (wildflower, orange blossom, clover are all nice examples)
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon or orange zest
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 4 large eggs

Preparation:

*Ricotta cheesecakes are moister than their American counterparts due to the high water content of fresh ricotta. I often drain my ricotta for an hour or two in a fine mesh sieve or in a colander lined with cheesecloth.
Preheat the oven to 350’ F. Place a rack in the center of the oven.
Lightly butter the bottom and sides of a 9” spring form pan. Grind the cookies in a food processor until they make fine crumbs. Pulse in the melted butter until the mixture is uniformly moistened. Press the crust mixture over the bottom and ½ inch up the sides of the prepared pan. Bake the crust for 15 minutes and cool completely.
Blend the cream cheese in the bowl of a food processor until smooth. (Alternatively, beat the cream cheese in a medium sized bowl with an electric mixer until smooth).
Add the ricotta and coconut sugar and blend well, stopping to scrape down the sides of the work bowl so the mixture is uniformly creamy.
Blend in the honey, lemon zest, vanilla and salt.
Add the eggs and mix the batter just until thoroughly blended.
Pour the cheesecake batter into the crust in the spring form. Place the spring form pan on a baking tray and place it on the center rack. Bake the cheesecake for 60-70 minutes, until it is golden and the center of the cake is fairly firm when the pan is gently shaken. The cake will sink slightly and firm up as it cools.
Cool the cheesecake on a rack for about an hour, until it reaches room temperature. Refrigerate the cheesecake until it is cold, at least several hours so it can set thoroughly.
Cut the cake into wedges and serve. The cheesecake will keep for 2-3 days if well wrapped and refrigerated.
Makes one 9-inch cheesecake serving 8-12
Copyright 2012 by Jen Hoy

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