Thursday, December 31, 2009

Orange Honey & Ricotta Cheesecake

"Thank you for being a friend... traveled down the road and back again..."
The Golden Girls had it right. A cheesecake is the perfect accessory for any late night fest... an after dinner dessert... an mid-afternoon pick-me-up... or simply a great breakfast. Cheesecake is my guilty pleasure and I am happy to share this recipe with you!

Inspired by
Giada De Laurentiis and her honey and ricotta cheesecake, I started to experiment, and come up with my own. The texture is smooth, slightly sweet, and the almond and orange burst on your taste buds the moment you take your first bite. A little lighter than a traditional cheesecake, you'll feel a little less guilty about eating that second slice! Enjoy...

12 servings
30 minute prep time
1 hour 20 minute cook time
6 hour set time

1/2 box (8 ounces) honey flavored graham crackers
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1 (15 ounce) container of whole milk ricotta, room temperature
2 (8 ounce) packages of Philadelphia cream cheese, room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup orange blossom honey
1 tablespoon almond extract
Zest of one orange
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
4 large eggs, room temperature

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wrap the outside of a springform pan with three layers of aluminum foil.

2. In a food processor pulse together graham crackers and brown sugar until no large chunks of cracker remain. Add melted butter and pulse until crumbs are evenly moistened. Press the mixture onto the bottom (not the sides) of the prepared springform pan. Bake for 15 minutes and let cool for 10 minutes.

3. In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, on low speed mix ricotta until smooth. Add cream cheese and sugar mixing only until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add honey, almond extract, orange zest, and salt. Mix only until combined.

4. Still on low speed, add one egg at a time until combined. Do not over mix. Excess air will cause your cheesecake to crack and bubble.

5. Pour the cheese mixture over the crust. Place the springform pan into a large roasting pan. Fill the roasting pan with warm water until it comes halfway up the side of the springform pan. Transfer to oven and bake for roughly 1 hour and 5 minutes until the top is golden and the center of the cake jiggles slightly when the pan is shaken. The cheesecake will firm up when it is chilled.

6. Remove spring form pan from water bath and let cool 1-2 hours. Loosely place a piece of plastic wrap on top of the cheesecake and refrigerate over night or for at least 6 hours.

7. To release from pan, run a butter knife under hot water and then around the edge of the springform pan. Once the cake has been separated from the sides, open the springform. Warm the butter knife again and slide it underneath the crust to separate it from the bottom of the springform pan. Carefully transfer cake to a flat plate, sprinkle with powdered sugar, garnish with an orange rind, and serve!


Quick & Dirty Tips

Preventing cracks and bubbles are key to having your cheesecake look fabulous and not taste dried out. So, here are the three "must never be broken rules" when it comes to making your own.

1. Don't over mix the
ingredients... you don't want to add extra air to the batter.

Use room temperature (68-76 degree) ingredients.... helps ingredients combine easily.

Don't skip the water bath... it helps the cake cook evenly rather then the sides cooking faster then the middle.

Other tips: Use Philadelphia cream cheese... it just tastes better! You can substitute any type of honey for the orange blossom honey. If you use low-fat or no-fat ricotta or cream cheese, expect your cheesecake to taste low-fat or no-fat! Blah...