Corsican Cheesecake with Orange Marmalade

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Serves

    8

Appears in

The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen

By Paula Wolfert

Published 2003

  • About

Corsicans make a glorious version of cheesecake using their favorite fresh cheese, brocciu, a goat or ewe’s milk cheese: white, light, and soft when fresh. If you drain ricotta and push it through a sieve, you will obtain an excellent substitute.

I first tasted this Corsican cheesecake (fiadone) in Ajaccio in early June, when the local brocciu cheese season was nearly over. The cake was a revelation: simple, wobbly, delicate, and creamy throughout, with a thin black topping. The man who sold it told me he made his fiadone just the way his mother had, searing it in a hot wood-burning oven until it was almost set, then moving it to a cooler part of the oven to finish baking slowly on its own.

As it happens, this is basically the same method used to make the famous New York Lindy’s cheesecake. Food writer James Villas told me his father so admired Lindy’s version that back in 1954, he asked his waiter for the recipe, slipping him a twenty-dollar bill while telling him that his wife simply “had to have it.” The waiter dutifully returned with the details handwritten on a paper napkin. According to these notes, at Lindy’s the cake is first blasted with high heat to set the outside, then baked slowly at a very low temperature to avoid curdling the eggy cheese mixture, and finally finished in the receding heat of a turned-off oven.

Many baking books warn you not to overbake, but slow-baking is not only forgiving, it will actually produce a better cake with a fragile texture and a subtle flavor. And the burnt topping resulting from the final broiling makes it especially delicious. For best flavor, drain the cheese two days before using.

Ingredients

  • 1 container (15 ounces) whole-milk ricotta, preferably fresh
  • ¼ cup milk
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 whole large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • ½ cup confectionerssugar
  • teaspoons orange liqueur, such as triple sec
  • Zest or 1 lemon
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup bitter orange marmalade

Method

  1. In a food processor, blend the ricotta, milk, and salt until smooth. Dump into a wet cheesecloth-lined sieve set over a bowl and refrigerate for up to 2 days. You should have about ¼ pound drained cheese.
  2. Place the oven rack in the bottom third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  3. In the food processor, combine the whole eggs, egg yolk, confectioners’ sugar, teaspoons of the orange liqueur, the lemon zest, and the vanilla. Process until thick and lemon colored. Add the drained ricotta and process until smooth.
  4. Use the butter to grease an 8-inch nonstick square or round baking pan. Dust with half the granulated sugar. Spread ⅔ cup of the batter in the prepared dish and bake until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Leave the oven on.
  5. Gendy heat the marmalade in a microwave or over low heat until syrupy. Drizzle half the marmalade over the baked cheese batter in an even layer. Pour the remaining batter on top, and spread evenly Set the cake in the oven. Immediately reduce the temperature to 185°F and bake until the cake is set around the edges but still a bit wobbly in the center, about 2 hours.
  6. Scatter the remaining granulated sugar over the hot cake and set under the broiler until the top browns. Turn off the oven and leave the cake on the rack with the door ajar for about 1 hour. Remove the cake, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or preferably overnight.
  7. Cut the cake into 8 squares. Thin the remaining orange marmalade with 1 tablespoon water and the remaining ½ teaspoon orange liqueur. Spoon around the cheesecake and serve.