When travelling through Tuscany, you really want to make sure you see the town of Pisa. It is not just a tourist place with a bell tower that leans quite severely. It is a cute little spot to grab lunch and see the more than 20 historical buildings and churches that accompany the tower. I think these churches are an excellent example of the beautiful architecture of this region.
This recipe is very popular in Tuscany. Ricotta cheese is one of my favourites. This light, fluffy cheese is made from the whey of buffalo mozzarella. It is so delicious!
We used to drive to a cheese factory in Northern Ontario to taste the fresh cheese as it was just finished. We had to get up very early in the morning but it was worth it. If you ever get the chance to taste Ricotta that is freshly made, you will be surprised at how light and flavourful it is. There is nothing like the taste of freshly made, warm ricotta cheese.
Ricotta cheese is the centre of so many Italian recipes because it is so versatile. It makes great fillings and wonderful cheesecakes.
I added the whipped cream and blackberries to this recipe. You could easily change the berries to strawberries or blueberries, if you prefer. I just love the way the tart blackberries compliment the lemon flavours in the cheesecake.
Lemon Ricotta Cheesecake with Blackberries
For the crust:
2 cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup sugar
½ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
Grated zest of 1 lemon
¾ cup unsalted butter, cut into ¾ inch pieces
¼ cup heavy (double) cream
For the filling:
2 cups ricotta cheese
½ cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/3 cups heavy (double) cream
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tbsp. all-purpose flour
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
Grated zest of 3 lemons
For the topping:
2 cups whipping cream
½ tsp. vanilla extract
2 pints fresh blackberries
In the bowl of a food processor combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and lemon zest. Pulse until mixed. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture looks crumbly. Pour into the cream and continue to pulse until the mixture is light yellow, but still crumbly. Do not pulse too long or the mixture will come together into a dough.
Measure out 1 cup of the crust mixture for the topping and set aside in a bowl in the freezer until needed. Pour the remaining crust mixture into a 9-inch springform pan. Using your hand, press the mixture evenly onto the bottom and halfway up the sides of the pan. Place the crust in the refrigerator while you making the filling.
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven, preheat to 350 degrees F.
To make the filling, combine the ricotta and the sugar in the bowl of a food processor. Process until the mixture is creamy. Add the eggs, cream, vanilla, flour, cinnamon and lemon zest and pulse to mix well.
Remove the crust from the refrigerator and immediately pour the filling into it, using a rubber spatula to scrape all of it into the pan. Sprinkle the frozen crust crumbs evenly over the surface. Bake the cheesecake until the crust is golden, the filling puffs up slightly, and the centre jiggles very slightly when the pan is gently shaken, 45-50 minutes. If the centre looks soupy, continue to bake for a few more minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.
To unmold, set the cheesecake on an inverted tall, narrow can or bowl. Release the pan sides, opening them widely and carefully so that they fall way from the cake.
Whip the cream for the topping and vanilla until stiff peaks form. Using a spatula, smooth the whipped cream over the top of the cooled cake. Place blackberries into cream with the ends facing up.
Keep refrigerated until serving.
Recipe adapted from Essentials of Baking from Williams-Sonoma