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Ricotta Cheesecake with Cran-Raspberry Sauce Recipe & Video

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This recipe is for a Ricotta Cheesecake. What I love about this cheesecake is how light and fluffy it is, with a wonderfully soft and creamy, yet slightly grainy texture. It is so good paired with a Graham Cracker Crust, and I like to top it with the wonderfully tangy sweet Cran-Raspberry Sauce. 

The name 'Ricotta' actually means "recooked". This cheese is highly perishable, made from the whey (watery residue from making other cheeses) that is cooked. While you can use part skim ricotta, my preference is to use whole milk ricotta as it gives the cheesecake a much richer flavor. And try to use a brand of ricotta that does not contain a gum stabilizer. (The brand I use is Calabro which can be found in some grocery stores or in specialty food stores.) Depending on the brand, if the ricotta cheese is watery, drain it before using. Do this by either placing the ricotta in a fine-meshed strainer or else a cheesecloth-lined strainer that has been suspended over a bowl. Cover and place in the refrigerator to drain for an hour or two, or even overnight.

The most important thing to remember when making a cheesecake is to have all the ingredients at room temperature. When mixing the batter, beat on low speed to reduce the amount of air incorporated into the batter. Too much air will cause the cheesecake to rise during baking only to disappointedly sink once it has been removed from the oven. Another thing to remember is a cheesecake is really a type of custard, so for this cheesecake I like to bake it in a water bath. Use very hot or almost boiling water and pour enough water to come almost halfway up the sides of the spring form pan (wrap in foil to prevent seepage). As with all cheesecakes, let it cool before covering and placing in the refrigerator. While you can serve this cheesecake once it cools, I find it does benefit from sitting at least four hours or preferably overnight in the fridge so the flavors have time to soften and blend. You can freeze this cheesecake for about a month by wrapping it in foil and placing it in a airtight container or plastic bag. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight.

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Ricotta Cheesecake: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Butter, or spray with non stick cooking spray, a 9 inch (23 cm) spring form pan. Wrap the outside of the pan with two layers of heavy foil. 

Crust: In a medium sized bowl or in your food processor, combine the Graham Cracker Crumbs (or crushed Digestive Biscuits) and melted butter. Press the crumbs evenly on the bottom of the spring form pan. Cover and refrigerate while you make the filling.

Cheesecake Filling: In a small bowl rub the lemon zest into the sugar. Stir in the cornstarch.

Then, in the bowl of your electric stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment (or with a hand mixer), place the cream cheese and sugar mixture and beat, on medium low speed, until smooth and free of lumps. Add the ricotta and beat until smooth, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until combined. Add the vanilla extract and beat until incorporated. 

Remove the crust from the refrigerator and pour in the cheesecake filling. Place the spring form pan in a large roasting pan. Pour enough hot water into the roasting pan to come about halfway up the sides of your spring form pan. 

Bake for about 50 - 60 minutes, or until the cheesecake is set, (the edges of the cheesecake may have some browning). Remove the pan from the water bath and cool on a wire rack. Then cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, or preferably overnight. You can cover and store this cheesecake for about 3-4 days in the refrigerator, or it can be frozen. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight. Serve with a spoonful of Cran-Raspberry Sauce.

Cran-Raspberry Sauce: Place all the ingredients in a large saucepan. Cook, over medium heat, stirring often, until the sauce thickens and is bubbly. Remove from heat and let cool. (Note: taste and add more sugar as needed.) Cover and store in the refrigerator. Makes about 2 cups (480 ml).

Serves about 12 people.

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1 cup (100 grams) Graham Cracker Crumbs or crushed Digestive Biscuits

4 tablespoons (55 grams) unsalted butter, melted

Cheesecake Filling:

1 cup (200 grams) granulated white sugar

Zest of 1 lemon or orange

1 tablespoon (10 grams) cornstarch

8 ounces (225 grams) cream cheese, at room temperature (use full fat, not reduced or fat free cream cheese)

16 ounces (2 cups) (450 grams) whole milk ricotta, at room temperature (drain, if necessary* (See Note)

4 large eggs (200 grams), at room temperature

1 1/2 teaspoons (6 grams) pure vanilla extract

Note: If the ricotta is watery, place in a fine-meshed or a cheesecloth-lined strainer, suspended over a bowl. Cover and place in the refrigerator to drain for an hour, or even overnight.

Cran-Raspberry Sauce:

3 cups (300 grams) frozen unsweetened raspberries

2 cups (200 grams) fresh or frozen cranberries

1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated white sugar (or more to taste)

1 tablespoon (10 grams) cornstarch

Zest of a lemon or orange (optional)

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