Ricotta Cheesecake for your Italian Valentine

Kathryn Occhipinti, MD
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD for Conversational Italian for Travelers books

For all those special people in your life – make a special Italian cake for Valentines Day!

My family’s favorite cheesecake recipe is now online for anyone who’d like to try a light, delicious cheesecake made Italian-style, with ricotta cheese – just as the Romans did way back when they invented this dessert.

I’ve already shared the recipe with my Conversationalitalian followers on Instagram, so if you’d like to see how to make the cheesecake with its special crust step by step, just click here:

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Italian Ricotta Cheesecake for Valentines Day. Makes a light, crumbly cheesecake, Italian-style, invented by the Romans! Ingredients: Crust: Mix 2 cups flour, 1/4 c sugar, 1/2 tsp. Salt. Cut in 3/4 cup unsalted butter. Add and mix with a fork: 2 large eggs lightly beaten, 3 Tbsps. Brandy, 1 tsp. Grated lemon zest. Spread mixture over bottom of 9‚ÄĚ springform pan and bake 8 min at 350 degrees. Make disk of rest and refrig. Filling: Mix together 2 1/2 lbs. good ricotta cheese, 1/2 c sugar, 1 Tbsp. flour, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. Vanilla, 1 tsp. lemon zest, 2 large eggs beaten lightly. Pour filling into partially prebaked crust. Roll out rest of dough to create heart. Bake at 350 1 hour and about 15 min.more. Dust with powdered sugar. Fill in heart with raspberry or other jam. Add fruit. Let cool and then refrig at leat 4 hours before enjoying!………………………….. #cheesecake #italiandesserts #italiandessertsarethebest #italiandessertūüáģūüáĻ #italiandessertcheesecake #italianfoodbloggers #italianfoodblogger #valentinedessert #valentinesday2019 #dolcevita #osnap #valentinesdaygift #learnitaliancookng #italiancook #italiancookingclass #cheesecakerecipe #cheesecakes #cheesecakefactory #thecheesecakefactoryathome #valentinesday2019 #valentinedesserts #valentinedessert #valentinedaydessert #valentinedessertcrawl #valentinedessertspecial

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The full method for this recipe is being simultaneously posted on the Learn Italian! blog for my website, www.learntravelitalian.com, where all authentic Italian recipes  for the home cook that I personally use are found.  Below is an excerpt. Click on the link to print off the entire method and enjoy!

Share your comments below if you like, or in our Conversational Italian Facebook group.

 

Italian Ricotta Cheesecake for Valentines Day 

When I was growing up in New York, my mother made a version of light, fresh-tasting cheesecake that my family loved.¬† After I became older and moved away from home,¬† I would often order what was called ‚ÄúNew York Style‚ÄĚ cheesecake in restaurants, hoping for a dessert that that would come close to the memory I had of my mother‚Äôs heavenly version.

What I came to realize over the years was that ‚ÄúNew York Style‚ÄĚ cheesecake is not at all like the cheesecake that my¬† used to make¬† while we were living in New York.¬† I could not understand why the restaurant cheesecake served to me often had an off flavor (can you say artificial ingredients?) and a texture that was heavy, and even gooey or sticky.

Of course, as I discovered when I finally asked my mother for her recipe, the reason the cheesecake I had at home was so different from what I found in restaurants was the type of cheese my mother used.  The ricotta cheese that my  mother would get freshly made from the Italian deli  after church every Sunday yielded a delicious, light, and almost crumbly cheesecake,  gently held together by a few  fresh eggs, flavored lightly with vanilla and given a fresh taste with a bit of lemon zest.  Which is not to say the other, more creamy versions made with cream cheese are not good if made with fresh ingredients.  They are just not Italian ricotta cheesecake!

The Italian crust my mother makes for her ricotta cheesecake also yields another subtle layer of flavor.¬† The method used to make the Italian version of a smaller fruit ‚Äúcrostata‚ÄĚ or ‚Äútart‚ÄĚ transfers to the thicker cheesecakes made in Italy.¬† A¬† ‚Äúpasta frolla,‚ÄĚ or ‚Äúsweet pastry‚ÄĚ crust lines the bottom of the tart and a lattice crust nicely decorates the top of the tart, and a true Italian cheesecake will have a lattice crust!¬† The crust for this cheesecake is flavored with a bit of lemon zest and brandy, which nicely compliments the taste of the fresh ricotta.

I modified the traditional lattice crust for Valentines Day by cutting an open heart into the top lattice crust.  After  baking the cheesecake, I let it cool a bit and then  I spread some good raspberry jam into the center of the heart for color and a little extra flavor.

My family loved this cheesecake as an early Valentines Day present.  I hope your loved ones will too!  For the recipe, click HERE -Kathryn Occhipinti

 

Traditional Sicilian Easter Cheesecake

Italian Easter Cheesecake from Ragusa, Sicily
Kathryn for learntravelitalian.com
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Learn Travel Italian.com

Easter is a very special time for celebration in Italy, as most Italians are Catholics or Christians.

The Easter season begins with Carnevale, which technically starts in January the day after Epifania, followed by Ash Wednesday (Mercoledi delle Cenere) and Lent (la Qauresima).

The week before Easter is called Holy Week in the Catholic Church. During this week, processions are held in the streets, often re-enacting the story of Jesus Christ, and special Masses are held.  This culminates in Good Friday, or Venerdì Santo.  The national holiday is officially Easter Sunday or Pasqua, followed by Easter Monday, or Pasquetta.

The week before Easter, Italians will say their “good byes” when leaving a group with the phrase, “Buona Pasqua!”

The Italian Easter Sunday is a day for the family to gather and attend church, followed by a special meal that is rich in the eggs and dairy that families in the past¬†centuries were obligated to “give up” during the Lenten period.

The method for making traditional Sicilian Easter cheesecake given here is made in my family hometown of Ragusa, Sicily, and was passed on from my grandmother to my mother here in America. It is a very rich dessert and is still a family favorite on Easter.

The recipe was originally posted on March 21, 2016, on the Learn Italian! blog for Stella Lucente, LLC, and www.learntravelitalian.com. Below is an excerpt.

I’d love to hear from you¬†after your family has tried this recipe! ¬†

 

Easter Cheesecake Recipe:
Traditional Sicilian Sweet Farro Wheat Pie

Italian Easter traditions are unique to each region of the country and have been lovingly handed down within families through the generations. Ricotta cheesecake, a version of which was first served by the Romans centuries ago, has come to play a part in the Easter celebration in Sicily as well.

The recipe given below is for¬†a Sicilian Easter cheesecake‚ÄĒactually a ‚Äúricotta pie,‚ÄĚ made with a sweet Italian pie crust and sweet ricotta and farro wheat filling. ¬†It¬†has been¬†passed down through the years within¬†my father‚Äôs family from the town of Ragusa in Sicily. If you would like to see how the lattice pie crust top is assembled, visit the¬†Stella Lucente Italian Pinterest site.

Farro wheat is one of the oldest forms of natural wheat grown in southern Italy and has been enjoyed by Italians for centuries. This whole-wheat grain is added to the ricotta filling as a symbol of renewal, along with dried fruit left over from winter stores and traditional Sicilian flavorings, in order to create a rich texture and a perfectly balanced sweet citrus and cinnamon flavor. Try it this Easter for a taste of Italian tradition!¬†‚ÄĒKathryn Occhipinti

Click on the link here for the recipe: Traditional Sicilian Sweet Farro Wheat Pie    Buon appetito!