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Ricotta cheesecake is a sweet, baked dessert in which ricotta cheese is the primary ingredient. It may be prepared with or without a crust, and additional spices and extracts may be used to add flavor to the dish. The finished cake, once cooled, can be topped with a variety of foods including fruits, jams, and chocolate.
This recipe is typically baked in the oven at a relatively low temperature for an hour or more. The mixture tends to rise in the oven as time progresses, but often falls towards the end of the cooking period. The ricotta cheesecake has finished baking when it turns a light, golden brown in color and begins to pull away from the edges of the baking pan. Cooks can test whether the center of the cake has finished cooking by inserting the point of a sharp knife into the dessert and checking that it comes out clean. The finished cake may be slightly raised around the edges and slope downwards to a depression in the center as it cools.
Additional ingredients include eggs, sugar, and vanilla extract. Some recipes call for a dash of lemon or orange zest to be added to the batter during the mixing process. These spices tend to add a refreshing note to the vanilla base created naturally by the cake. The ricotta cheesecake mixture may be poured into a prepared pie crust, such as graham cracker or crumbled chocolate cookies. It may also be poured directly into a well greased spring form pan and baked without a crust.
Only whole milk ricotta cheese should be used in the preparation of this dessert for a richer, full flavor. Many different ricotta cheese manufacturers provide half fat and low fat varieties, which should be avoided when making a ricotta cheesecake. Whole milk ricotta can be drained prior to combining with the other ingredients by wrapping the solid cheese several times in cheesecloth and placing in a colander and drain bowl in the fridge. Excess liquid will seep out, and the remaining cheese is thick and easy to mix.
The overall flavor of ricotta cheesecake differs slightly from traditional cheesecake, which uses cream cheese as the base ingredient. This recipe is lighter in both texture and flavor, and allows a slight hint of the eggs and vanilla to remain. Chocolate chips may be blended into the batter prior to baking for a sweeter version. It may be topped with sliced fruit, melted marmalade, and chocolate or caramel sauce.