A cheesecake recipe can be useful on any special occasion, and especially so on Valentine’s Day. For many people, cheesecake is not cheesecake without the addition of ricotta cheese. While ricotta is included in savory dishes like lasagna or manicotti, it is at home in desserts like cheesecake as well. Ricotta means “recooked” in Italian, and its production involves reheating the whey left over from making other cheeses, like mozzarella. Its texture is like a creamy/grainy, thick sour cream.
Ricotta is included in this recipe for “Ricotta Cheesecake With Coffee and Chocolate” from “Nick Stellino’s Family Kitchen” (G.P. Putnam’s Sons) by Nick Stellino, but it is not the only flavorful ingredient in this decadent dish. Coffee liqueur, chocolate and lemon zest add to the complex profile — which only get more pronounced if you prepare this cake a day in advance.
Ricotta Cheesecake With Coffee and Chocolate (Tortino al caffè e ciccolato)
Serves 8 to 10
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons sugar, plus 1⁄2 cup sugar
2 lbs. ricotta cheese, drained of excess liquid
8 eggs, separated
1/2 cup cream
1/4 cup espresso or extra strong coffee, cooled
1/4 cup coffee liqueur
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate morsels
Preheat the oven to 325 F. Make a graham cracker crust by mixing together the melted butter with the crumbs, and sugar. Press into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan. Mix together the ricotta, sugar, egg yolks, cream, espresso, coffee liqueur, lemon zest, and salt until creamy. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Carefully fold the egg whites into the ricotta mixture. Stir in the chocolate morsels and pour onto the prepared crumb crust.
Bake the cake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until just set in the middle. The cake will still seem wobbly, but will be lightly browned and cracked around the edges. Remove the cake from the oven and cool on a rack for 30 minutes. Refrigerate the cheesecake for at least 6 hours or overnight before running a sharp knife along the edge of the cake and removing the pan. Cut into wedges to serve. Garnish with shaved chocolate and strawberries, if desired.