Italian cheese cake is one of the easiest Italian desserts to make and yes one can add raisins, orange, or pine nuts, but I recall my grandmother’s simple version making it from goat’s milk ricotta, with minimal sugar and it was delicious. In American the cream cheese version, of much smoother consistency, is common, but an Italian will willingly partake in the crumbly consistency of ricotta cheese cake, any time.
2 tablespoons softened butter
1/2 cup amaretto crumbs from about 4 or 5 amaretti
1/2 cup golden raisins
3 tablespoons dark rum
5 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 cups drained fresh ricotta, at room temperature
1 cup mascarpone, at room temperature
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
Finely grated zest of 1 orange
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Brush an 8-inch springform pan with butter on the bottom and sides. Coat bottom and sides with amaretto crumbs, tapping out excess. Put raisins in a small bowl and pour rum over, let soak while you make the filling.
In a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat eggs, sugar and salt at high speed until foamy and the sugar has dissolved and no longer feels grainy, about 2 minutes. Add ricotta, mascarpone and zests. Drain raisins, set aside and add leftover rum to the mixer, mix on medium until smooth and fluffy, about another 2 minutes. Fold in raisins and pine nuts by hand.
Put spring form pan on a baking sheet and pour batter into pan, smoothing the top with a spatula. Bake until edges are set and light golden but the center is still a bit jiggly, about 1 hour. Cool on a wire rack completely before cutting and serving.
Chef Gregory Callimanopulos
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