Crostata di Ricotta

Italian Cheesecake

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Serves

    8

Appears in

The Mediterranean Kitchen

By Joyce Goldstein

Published 1998

  • About

The success of this cheesecake depends on a few important factors. First, the ricotta cheese must be fresh and creamy, and, if you’re using cream cheese, it must be fresh and not stabilized with gelatin. Second, you must use a light hand folding in the egg whites. And finally, please do not refrigerate the cake or it will lose its delicate and creamy texture forever. Any leftover cake may be stored overnight at room temperature. I prefer to serve this cake warm.

Ingredients

Pastry

  • cups (all-purpose) flour
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, chilled and cut into bits
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 large egg yolks (save the whites for the filling)
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon dry Marsala

Filling

  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts
  • ½ cup golden raisins
  • cup dry Marsala
  • 1 pound fresh ricotta cheese (see Note) or ½ pound each ricotta and cream cheese (see Note)
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon (all-purpose) flour
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • ½ cup sour cream or ¼ cup each sour cream and heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest (optional)
  • 2 large egg whites

Method

For the pastry, put the flour in a mixing bowl or in the bowl of a food processor. Cut or process in the butter with pulses until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Mix the sugar, egg yolks, lemon zest, and Marsala and add it to the flour mixture. Gradually work it in with your fingers or pulse until well combined (the dough is too soft and rich to form a ball). Using about half the dough, press a very thin layer of dough over the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan. Snap on the side of the pan and press the remaining dough in a thin layer up the side, making sure the side and bottom are joined at the bottom edge. Refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. For the filling, spread the pine nuts on a baking sheet in a single layer and toast until golden brown, about 5 minutes; set aside. Put the raisins in a small saucepan and cover with the Marsala. Heat over low heat until warm. Remove from the heat and let stand about ½ hour to plump.

Using the paddle on an electric mixer, beat the cheese in a mixer bowl until light and fluffy. Add the sugar and flour and beat until blended, then beat in the egg yolks, sour cream, vanilla, and lemon zest if using until fluffy. In a second mixer bowl, beat the 6 egg whites until soft peaks form. Stir a third of the whites into the cheese mixture, then fold in the remaining whites with the pine nuts and raisins with Marsala.

Pour the filling into the tart shell. Bake until the filling shimmers but is no longer liquid when jiggled, 50 to 60 minutes. Let cool in the pan 20 to 30 minutes. Remove the side of the pan and serve warm.