So apparently my rennet was old. About 4 years ago I went through a spell where I made a bunch of mozzarella cheese. When Tage came along, I put my cheese making supplies away and haven’t looked at them since until a few weeks ago when I started making cottage cheese. Well, I made a batch of weird cottage cheese and then when I tried some farmhouse cheddar the other day, the curd never set firm enough. Instead of throwing out the batch, I drained the soft curd through cheese cloth for several hours and got a ricotta-like cheese. It tasted delicious.
And it was destined for this lovely cake.
I never thought I’d like ricotta cheesecake. I’m not a huge fan of the cheese itself. This cake, though, was perfect – very lightly sweet and decadent enough to feel like a big indulgance. I love a good, rich cheesecake now and then but I can never eat more than one or two slices of a cake so I don’t make it very often. But I could eat a lot of this cake. Maybe that’s a bad thing!
Oh, and I got some new rennet and my cheese making is going splendidly. I’m pressing my third wheel at the moment while the other two air-dry on the counter. They smell wonderful!
Adapted from Joy of Baking
7 whole graham crackers, crushed into fine crumbs (about 1 cup)
1 T sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
Mix the crumbs with the sugar and butter. Press into the bottom of a greased 8- or 9-inch spring form pan. Surround the bottom of the pan with a layer of tin foil. Set aside.
1 8-oz package cream cheese, softened
2 1/2 cups (20 oz) thick ricotta cheese*
2/3 cup sugar
1 t lemon zest
1 1/2 t vanilla extract
Beat the cream cheese until it’s smooth. Add the ricotta and sugar and beat again. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until just combined each time. Stir in the zest and vanilla.
Pour the filling into the crust. Set the pan into a larger pan and fill with about an inch of water. Slide the whole thing into a preheated 350F oven and bake for about 45 – 60 minutes or until just set in the middle. Remove the cake from the water bath and chill before eating. Serve plain or with a fruit sauce.
*If your cheese is on the thin side, hang it to drain for a while in cheese cloth but you’ll want a full 2 1/2 cups of thick cheese when you are finished draining it.
Serves: 8 – 12