Thoughts on the wild, the weird, and the romantic from author Joy Nash

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Joy Nash is a USA Today Bestselling Author and RITA Award Finalist applauded by Booklist for her "tart wit, superbly crafted characters, and sexy, magic-steeped plots."

» Friday, March 24, 2006

Ricotta Cheesecake

In honor of Spring and the upcoming Easter holiday, I'm posting my my mother's Italian Ricotta Cheesecake Recipe. If you never tasted an Italian Ricotta Cheesecake, you're really missing out. Traditionally, Mom made this cheesecake for Easter Sunday. But you don't have to celebrate Easter to love it! Any spring holiday will do.

My Mom died recently, leaving me to take over as official Keeper of the Family Recipes. There are quite a few special recipes in my family, many made for certain holidays and NEVER at any other time of the year.

Ricotta Cheesecake was always one of my favorite childhood desserts. It's pure comfort food. Sorry if you're watching your cholesterol, though. This is definitely not a cholesterol-friendly recipe. And as for the calories/fat/carb thing? If you have to ask, you can't afford it.

Anyway, here it is. An added bonus: it's not hard to make!


Verna Mae's Ricotta Cheesecake:

Baking Pan: You need a deep dish pie pan for this recipe. I've inherited the pan Mom used exclusively for this recipe: a 2-1/2" deep, 11" round cast aluminum frying pan with the handle broken off! This pan is older than I am, I think it gave up its frying life for a career in baking in the early Fifties.

The amounts below are a perfect fit for Mom's pan. You might have to adjust.

Crust:

3 eggs
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. melted butter
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. baking powder
2-1/2 to 3 c. flour

Filling:

3 lbs. ricotta
6 eggs, separated
3/4 c. sugar
2 tbsp. orange juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Crust:

Sift 2 cups flour with baking powder. Beat eggs, sugar, vanilla and butter in a large bowl, then add flour/baking powder mixture. Keep adding flour until dough is able to be rolled, but is still soft. Roll crust and press into deep-dish pie pan, reserving some dough for the lattice top crust.

Filling:

Separate eggs. Beat whites until stiff. In a separate bowl, beat yolks, sugar and juice. Add ricotta. Fold egg whites into mixture and pour into crust.

Lattice:

Roll remaining dough and cut into 10 long strips with a pastry cutter. Weave strips into a lattice in top of the cheesecake, starting with one across the middle. Put the second one across the first one to form an "x". Then alternate adding strips. Perfectionists will want to lift and weave the strips so that they form a perfect basket weave.

Bake:

Cover the edges of the crust with aluminum foil so it doesn't get too brown while baking. Bake approx 1 hour at 350 degrees if you have a deep dish pan, or less if your pan is shallower than 2-1/2 inches deep. Just make sure a toothpick comes out clean and the middle doesn't jiggle all over the place. Don't try to cut it when it's hot, or it will be a mess! Let it cool completely and then refrigerate overnight before cutting. Serve cold. It's great with sliced strawberries.

If you try it, let me know how it turned out!

Until next Friday...

Joy Nash
www.joynash.com

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