Tag: ricotta cheesecake

Maltese Ricotta Pie with Lemon Syrup and Pistachios

Maltese Ricotta Cake with Lemon Syrup

My friend Essa baked a wonderful cake a few years ago that I never managed to get out of my head. It was a Maltese cheesecake made with ricotta and eggs on top of a thin short crust base topped with sticky lemon syrup and chopped pistachios. It was so good, I dreamt of it! We enjoyed it in her Mediterranean garden, the rustic limestone walls covered in fragrant blue plumbago and white stephanotis flowers – the tantalizing smell of the south and a sweet pie on my plate.

Years have past, Essa forgot about the recipe and I, sadly, couldn’t find the copy that I had made – until a few days ago. I gave it a go in my Maltese mother’s house, in Jenny’s kitchen, the same day I made the happy discovery and it came out as amazing as I remembered it. The filling refined with lemon zest is creamy but fluffy, not as dense as a New York cheesecake. The sticky and sour syrup on top and the generous amount of crunchy nuts turn this cake into something so delicious that I soon regretted the size of the pie tin I chose. We ate it all within less than an hour!

Maltese Ricotta Cake with Lemon Syrup

 

Maltese Ricotta Cake with Lemon Syrup

 Maltese Ricotta Cake with sticky Lemon Syrup and Pistachios

For a 20cm / 8″ pie form you need

short crust dough 250g / 9 ounces (you can use 1/3 of the pastry from my fruit tart recipe, click here)

ricotta 380g / 13 1/2 ounces
lemon zest 1 heaped teaspoon
organic eggs 3
sugar 100g / 1/2 cup
butter, melted, 40g / 2 heaped tablespoons
semolina (fine) 1 heaped tablespoon
pistachios (unsalted), chopped, 40g / 1 1/2 ounces, for the topping

For the lemon syrup
freshly squeezed lemon juice 75ml / 1/3 cup
sugar 50g / 1/4 cup
honey 1 heaped tablespoon

Prepare the dough, form a thick disc, wrap in cling film and put in the freezer for 20 minutes.

Set the oven to 200°C / 390°F (top/ bottom heat).

Roll out the dough between cling film and line your pie form with the flat pastry. Prick with a fork and bake it in the hot oven for 12 minutes. Take it out when it’s golden and set aside. Turn the oven down to 190°C / 375°F.

In a large bowl, whisk the ricotta, zest, eggs and sugar. Add the melted butter and semolina and whisk until well combined. Pour the cheese filling on top of the pre-baked pastry and bake for about 30-40 minutes or until just set (I use a gas oven in Malta so the baking time can be different in an electric oven).

For the syrup, bring the lemon juice, sugar and honey in a sauce pan to the boil and cook for about 4-5 minutes on high heat until thick and golden. Whisk once in a while and mind that it bubbles up while cooking, it shouldn’t burn!

Drizzle the syrup over the ricotta cake and sprinkle generously with pistachios.

Maltese Ricotta Cake with Lemon Syrup

 

Maltese Ricotta Cake with Lemon Syrup

 

Maltese Ricotta Cake with Lemon Syrup

 

Maltese Ricotta Cake with Lemon Syrup

 

Maltese Ricotta Cake with Lemon Syrup

 

Maltese Ricotta Cake with Lemon Syrup

 

malteselemonricottapistachiocake9

Chocolate Ricotta Cheesecake – my take on Russischer Zupfkuchen

Zupfkuchen

If you like the combination of bittersweet chocolate and creamy cheesecake, this is your recipe! Russischer Zupfkuchen is a German cake classic. Although its history is still relatively young and a little in the dark, this cake gained rising popularity over the past few decades. The name is slightly misleading, there is no proof of a connection to the Russian cuisine, this cake is a culinary mystery, a sweet one, and it might stay that way forever.

Zupfkuchen means plucked cake, which refers to the chocolate dough on top that’s also used for the base. It’s a dark, crumbly short crust that brings some depth into this sweet and creamy treat. Traditionally, the topping is made with quark, the German dairy product which is similar to ricotta or cottage cheese, it creates a bit of a heavy, more dry texture. I tried many of these cakes in my life and this particular texture was often the reason why I couldn’t really warm to it, apart from the fact that many were simply too sweet for my taste.

When I decided to create my own Zupfkuchen I wanted to work on these two points, texture and sweetness. I had something lighter in mind, a filling made with ricotta and a little bit of mascarpone, definitely less sugar and more eggs than you’d find in the usual recipes. The texture turned out to be a cross between a soufflé and a flan, it’s like a French take on this rather rustic cake. Especially when you try a piece while it’s still warm, it tastes a bit like custard, resembling the fine eggy note of a crème caramel which fades away as soon as the cake cools down. If you’re a Zupfkuchen traditionalist, you might be a bit disturbed by this new nuance, but if you savour with an open mind, you can enjoy the contrast of chocolaty darkness and light milkiness. Just add some more sugar if there are children at the table, this is a less-sweet-adult cake.

Before I forget, we found the cake best on the second day!

Zupfkuchen

 

Zupfkuchen

 Russischer Zupfkuchen

For a 26cm / 10″ springform pan you need

For the chocolate short crust

plain flour 300g / 10.5 ounces
sugar 80g / 3 ounces
unsweetened cocoa powder 50g / 1 3/4 ounces
baking powder 1 1/2 leveled teaspoons
a pinch of salt
cold butter 175g / 6 1/4 ounces
organic egg 1
cold milk 1 tablespoon

Combine the flour with the sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Cut the butter into the flour with a knife until there are just little pieces of butter left. Continue with your fingers and rub the butter into the flour. Add the egg and milk and continue mixing with the hooks of your mixer until combined. Form a ball, wrap in cling film and put in the fridge while you prepare the cheese topping.

 

For the cheese topping

fresh ricotta 500g / 18 ounces
mascarpone 250g / 9 ounces
organic eggs 4
cornstarch 50g / 1 3/4 ounces
baking powder 1 teaspoon
a pinch of salt
sugar 120g / 4 1/2 ounces
milk 1 tablespoon
a pinch of vanilla scraped out of its pod

In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients for the cheese topping with an electric mixer until well combined and creamy.

 

For the Zupfkuchen

Set the oven to 180°C / 355°F (top/ bottom heat) and butter the springform pan.

Divide the short crust in 2/3 for the base and 1/3 for the chocolate topping.

Roll out 2/3 of the dough between cling film, big enough to come up about 2/3 of the rim of the springform pan and line the pan with the pastry. Continue rolling out the remaining 1/3 of dough between cling film (about 1/2cm / 1/4″ thick) and pluck it into roundish pieces for the topping, set this dough aside.

Pour the cheesecake topping in the pastry lined springform pan and bake for 20 minutes. Open the oven and gently (and quickly) lay the plucked chocolate dough pieces on top of the cheese topping. Bake for another 35 minutes or until golden and firm on top. Switch off the oven, open the oven door and keep the cake in the oven for another 5-10 minutes. Take it out and let the cake cool before you take it out of the springform pan.

Zupfkuchen

 

Zupfkuchen

 

Zupfkuchen

 

Zupfkuchen

Blueberry Ricotta Cheesecake

lueberry Ricotta Cheesecake

My last cheesecake creation is definitely too long ago, it was a dense treat with lots of orange and lemon flavours, rich in cream cheese with a little addition of Mediterranean ricotta. It was more like a classic New York cheesecake and was so good that for more than a year I haven’t bothered to come up with a new recipe. I baked it all winter, its citrusy richness is just perfect for a cosy tea time, and then in summer, I moved on to our old family recipe for the German version of this cake. German Käsekuchen is made with quark and stiff egg whites which gives it a lighter, fluffier texture, it’s delicious with fresh berries for a Sunday morning brunch on the balcony!

Despite the wintery temperatures, my mood has already moved on to the next season, spring, sunshine and fragrant flowers. This calls for a new cheesecake recipe!

I was after a lighter version so a good amount of the usual cream cheese had to make way for ricotta. For the first time in my life I looked at the amount of fat in both dairy products, something I’m not very interested in most of the time as I want to enjoy my food and not feel guilty. The Italian cheese is definitely the winner (in a good way). It still creates a creamy texture but it’s not as filling. I refined the cheesecake mixture with lots of lemon juice and zest and baked it on top of a base of buttery digestive cookies. A fruity topping brought a spring feeling to the recipe, I brushed the cake with a thin layer of apricot jam and spread lots of crisp blueberries on top. It was amazing, one bite after the other was pure bliss!

lueberry Ricotta Cheesecake

 

lueberry Ricotta Cheesecake

Blueberry Ricotta Cheesecake

For a 20.5cm / 8″ springform pan you need

digestive cookies (Graham crackers) 210g / 7.5 ounces
butter, melted, 70g / 2.5 ounces
ricotta, room temperature, 250g / 9 ounces
cream cheese, room temperature, 300g / 10.5 ounces
sugar 100g / 3.5 ounces
vanilla pod, scraped, 1/4
organic eggs 3
cornstarch 1 teaspoon
zest of 1 large lemon
juice of 1 lemon (4 tablespoons)
a pinch of salt
fresh blueberries about 200g / 7 ounces, for the topping
apricot jam 2 tablespoons, for the topping
water 2 tablespoons, for the topping
icing sugar, for the topping

Crush the cookies in a blender until very fine, or in a plastic bag, and mix with the melted butter until combined. Press the mixture into the springform pan and put in the freezer for 15 minutes.

Set the oven to 165°C / 330°F and put a deep tray or roasting tin in the oven on the lowest position. Boil water in a kettle.

Mix the ricotta, cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, eggs, cornstarch, lemon juice, zest and salt with an electric mixer until well combined.

Take the springform pan out of the freezer and wrap it in aluminium foil twice so that the bottom and sides are well covered to protect the cheesecake from the water while it’s baking. Pour the cheesecake mixture on top of the hardened crumbs and place the tin carefully into the tray in the oven. Fill the tray with the boiling water from your kettle. The water should come half way up the wrapped springform pan. Bake for 50 minutes, switch off the oven, open the door a little bit and leave the cake in the oven for about 15 minutes. Take the cheesecake out of the oven, take off the foil but leave the cake in the springform pan. When the cake is completely cool, chill it in the fridge (or outside in winter) for about an hour.

In a sauce pan, bring the jam and water to the boil and cook for about 30 seconds, push through a sieve and brush on the cake. Spread the berries evenly on top of the cake and sprinkle with icing sugar before serving.

lueberry Ricotta Cheesecake

 

lueberry Ricotta Cheesecake

 

lueberry Ricotta Cheesecake

 

lueberry Ricotta Cheesecake

 

lueberry Ricotta Cheesecake

 

lueberry Ricotta Cheesecake