Lemon Ricotta Cheesecake
Light and lemony, ahhhh. This baby is going to be the lightest cheesecake to delight your little taste buds ever. Yes, I said ever. I meant to make it for a group of people for the Jewish festival of Shavuot a few weeks back but ended up having one dear friend over instead. It did not go to waste. Oh no, au contraire, we were 3 very happy campers. Novio, who loves a dense New York-style cheesecake, even agrees that this is an absolutely delicious cheesecake and he would like me to make it more often.
This light and breezy cheesecake (breezy? for a cheesecake? yes! I stand by my adjectives!) is great for a summertime dessert and for those of you celebrating July 4th, it’s the perfect Independence Day dessert. Just circle the top of the cheesecake with alternating raspberries and blueberries. And poof! You have red, white and blue to honor the US of A.
Hanni, who is on a major ricotta kick, specifically requested that I post this as absolutely soon as possible. So here I am, reporting for duty.
I adapted this recipe from Faye Levy’s Low Fat Jewish Cookbook. My copy, whose body has torn away from the binding, is testament to how often I have gone back to it. Faye Levy has published many books in the 15+ years since this has been published, but I know a good recipe when I see one. This volume takes the cake (pun intended).
It used to be called lemon rind. These days, it’s typically referred to as lemon zest. In any case, you know the deal. Use the yellow part only. That’s sweet and fragrant. Leave the bitter white pith behind. Nice metaphor.
Phase Two – Spoon on the topping and bake again
Lemon Ricotta Cheesecake
slightly adapted from Faye Levy’s Low-Fat Jewish Cookbook
CRUMB CRUST5 oz. (10 sheets) graham crackers 1 T. sugar 1/2 t. grated lemon zest 1/4 c. canola or safflower oil or 2 oz. melted butter
CHEESE FILLING1 15-oz. container low-fat ricotta cheese 3/4 c. low-fat sour cream 3/4 c. sugar 2 large eggs, separated 2 T. all-purpose flour 2 t. grated lemon zest 2 t. lemon juice 1 c. low-fat sour cream
TOPPING1 c. low-fat sour cream 2 t. sugar 1/2 t. grated lemon zest 1 t. fresh lemon juice 1 t. pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350º F.
Place graham crackers in ziploc bag and, using a rolling pin, roll back and forth until you have fine crumbs. Very cathartic. Or, you can throw the broken up crackers in a food processor and pulse until you get fine crumbs.
Measure 1 1/4 cups crumbs and mix them with the sugar and lemon zest. Add the oil (or melted butter) and mix well.
Lightly grease a 9″ springform pan. Using the back of a spoon, press the crumb mixture in an even layer on the bottom and about 1″ up the sides of the pan.
Bake 8 minutes, let cool completely.
To make the filling: beat the ricotta with the sour cream at low speed until smooth. Gradually beat in the sugar. Then beat in the egg yolks, one at a time, and add the flour, then the lemon zest, and juice.
Whip egg whites in a second small bowl until stiff.
Fold egg whites unto the cheese mixture. Carefully pour filling into the cool rust.
Bake about 50-55 minutes, or until the top center is just firm, but shakes slightly when you jiggle the pan. Cracks will form in the top of the cake.
Cool cake 15 minutes and be prepared to see the center sink. That’s fine. Now you have room for the topping.
With a small spatula, release any bits of cake from the upper part of the pan into the sunken center. This will help with cake removal.
Raise oven temperature to 425º F.
Prepare the topping, mix the sour cream, with the sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice and vanilla. Spoon the topping over the cake in spoonfuls. Carefully spread the topping in an even layer, without letting it drip over the edge of the pan.
Bake for 10 minutes in the hotter oven.
Cool cake to room temperature. Remove outer ring of springform pan. I keep the cake on the springform bottom.
Refrigerate for at least 4 hrs, or overnight before serving. Makes 12 slices.
bb note: Turn this into the perfect light and delicious July 4 dessert by adding blueberries and raspberries all around the top of the cheesecake.
I’m making this for you soon, Mom.