Thursday, July 30, 2015

Light and fluffy Ricotta Cheesecake (with homemade ricotta)

I made ricotta cheese. Did you not know you could do that, with only 3 ingredients in less than 10 minutes! And all with curds and whey, I felt like Little Miss Muffet now waiting for a spider to pounce at me. So why make ricotta? Apparently, homemade ricotta gives the cheesecake a fluffier texture, and it did turn out to be light, fluffy and creamy, with a subtle taste of ricotta. I used a gingernut biscuit base just to add some flavour and texture, although you can omit that to make a crustless version.

This is not a very sweet cake, unlike your typical New York cheesecake. It's probably closer to a Japanese cheesecake except for the fine graininess of the ricotta. If you like, you can serve it with some berry coulis to satisfy that sweet tooth. I find that the cake tastes best after it has "matured" for up to 3 days in the fridge. The flavours seem to have developed and the texture is somehow creamier too.

Ricotta in the making

Homemade Ricotta
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Makes 1 generous cup of ricotta


3 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp lemon juice (or substitute with white vinegar)


Pour the milk, cream and salt into a medium-sized nonreactive saucepan. Heat the milk to 190°F (or until it's just about to come to a simmer), stirring it occasionally to keep it from scorching on the bottom. Turn off the heat. Add the lemon juice or vinegar, then stir it once or twice, gently and slowly. Let the pot sit undisturbed for 5 minutes.

Line a colander / strainer with a layer of muslin or cheesecloth and place it over a large bowl (to catch the whey). Pour the curds and whey into the colander and let the curds strain for at least an hour. At an hour, you’ll have a tender, spreadable ricotta. At two hours, it will be spreadable but a bit firmer, almost like cream cheese. (It will firm as it cools, so do not judge its final texture by what you have in your cheesecloth.) Discard the whey. Eat the ricotta right away or transfer it to an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use. (For purposes of making the cheesecake, I left the ricotta in the muslin cloth and placed it in an airtight container in the fridge overnight to drain the ricotta further).

Ricotta Cheesecake
Adapted from The Baked Road


120g Arnotts Ginger Nut biscuits *
60g melted butter

1 packet cream cheese (250 g / 8 oz), room temperature
250g (8 oz or 1 cup) ricotta cheese, room temperature
4 eggs, separated and at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon vinegar

* Note: You can substitute with 150g Arnotts Orange Slice (cream biscuits) and 15g melted butter. Or if you prefer chocolate, use 150g Oreo cookies and 15g melted butter.

  1. Preheat oven to 180C / 350 F. Grease and line the base of an 8 inch (3 inches tall) round springform pan. Wrap the pan all around with aluminium foil to prevent water from leaking in from the water bath. Boil some water for the water bath.
  2. In a food processor, crush biscuits to fine crumbs. Add butter and pulse to combine. Spread crumb mixture evenly over pan base, pressing firmly with a fork or base of a glass. 
  3. In a mixer using the paddle attachment, cream together the ricotta and cream cheese until smooth. Add in the egg yolks, one at a time. After mixing thoroughly, add the sour cream/yogurt, vanilla, 1/2 cup sugar and lemon juice. Sift in the cornstarch. Mix well.
  4. In another clean bowl, beat the egg whites and vinegar until large bubbles form. Slowly add in rest of the 1/4 cup sugar, and continue beating until soft peaks form.
  5. Fold in 1/3 of the meringue with the cheese mixture until fully incorporated. Add in the rest of the egg whites, folding gently without deflating the meringue but thoroughly. Pour the batter over the biscuit base. 
  6. Place a larger baking pan (one that the 8-inch pan can fit into comfortably) into the oven first (use the middle rack) and pour the boiling water (from step 1) into the larger baking pan until it comes halfway up the cakepan. The waterbath helps minimize the cracks on the surface of the cheesecake and prevents the cake from overcooking.
  7. Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes. If the cheesecake is browning too fast, turn the heat down to 160C / 300 F, or place a piece of baking paper over the top of the cake to prevent further browning. The cake is cooked when there is still a slight wobble in the middle. Remove the cake from the waterbath and place the cakepan back in the oven to cool, with the oven door slightly ajar. I find that leaving the waterbath in the oven may result in condensation and moisture seeping into the cake.
  8. Refrigerate for a few hours or overnight. Cake tastes best after 1-2 days when the flavours have developed. Dust cake with icing sugar and cinnamon before serving.