This has to be one of the easiest and tastiest cheesecakes around. Ricotta is used in place of cream cheese, making for a much lighter mouthful, however this means that it’s important to allow enough time for the cheesecake to set fully – ideally you’d make it a day in advance. The best ricotta to use for this is sheep’s milk ricotta, but you will only find this in Italian delis or in a farm shop that sells local cheese. Ricotta is in fact the by-product of cheese making – it’s made by reheating the whey that has separated from the curds, then draining the coagulated top into a fine sieve. The solids are sold as ricotta and any remaining liquid is traditionally fed to pigs.
Amalfi Lemon Cheesecake
- 200 g (7oz) cantuccini biscuits
- 75 g (2¾oz) unsalted butter
- 50 g (2oz) light brown soft sugar
- 500 g (1lb 2oz) ricotta, drained
- 100 g (3½oz) mascarpone
- 2 Amalfi lemons, zest and juice, plus extra zest to serve
- 125 g (4½oz) icing (confectioner’s) sugar, sifted
- Tip the cantuccini into a food processor and blitz them to a fine crumb. Alternatively, place them in a Ziplock bag and bash them with a rolling pin or saucepan. Set aside.
- Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over a low heat, then add the blitzed cantuccini biscuits and the sugar. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute, then take the pan off the heat.
- Tip the mixture into a 22cm (8½in) non-stick springform cake tin, pressing the buttery crumbled biscuits over the base to create a biscuit base. Transfer the tin to the fridge while you make the ricotta filling.
- Using a hand-held electric whisk or a wooden spoon, beat together the ricotta, mascarpone, lemon zest and juice and icing (confectioner’s) sugar in a large mixing bowl for 4 minutes, until the mixture is creamy and light.
- Spoon the ricotta mixture into the springform tin and spread it out into an even layer over the base. Refrigerate to set for a minimum of 3 hours, but preferably overnight, before releasing the cheesecake from the tin. Transfer it to a serving plate and top with extra lemon zest before slicing.
The Italian Pantry by Theo Randall (Quadrille, £26), Photography © Lizzie Mayson