I prefer to regard a dessert as I would imagine the perfect woman: subtle, a little bittersweet, not blowsy and extrovert. Delicately made up, not highly rouged. Holding back, not exposing everything and, of course, with a flavor that lasts.
I love that quote, because it perfectly sums up my feelings about dessert. I’ve had a raging sweet-tooth all my life, but people always assume that means I love fudge, baked cheesecake, milk chocolate, and all things rich and sugary. Truth is, that stuff makes me sick to my stomach, just isn’t appealing at all. But give me a light or moderately-sweet dessert and I’m in heaven. That’s one reason why lemony treats always intrigue me (EXCEPT cloyingly-sweet lemon bars). You can have your sugar, but the lemon’s tartness and acidity balance it out nicely. And this cheesecake might be the perfect dessert—light, textured, sweet, tart, airy, creamy goodness.
I pinned this recipe several months ago, one of the first after I joined Pinterest. Secretly, I kind of thought that I wouldn’t ever make it, because it required a little more work than I typically put into cooking before I started this blog.
There are few things that smell better than fresh lemon zest…
Start by crushing about a pack and a half of graham crackers into crumbs. I really hate this part, so I just threw them in my food processor and pulverized them.
Combine with the melted butter. I actually wouldn’t recommend doing this in your food processor like I did (harder to get out), just do it in the pan itself.
Pour the crumbs into the dish and press into a crust. Bake for about 15 minutes, until the crust is golden.
In a mixer with good attachments, beat the cream cheese on low for about 30 seconds.
Add the ricotta, sugar, lemon zest and juice to the cream cheese, mixing on low for another 30 seconds.
Turn the mixer up to medium and add the three eggs, mixing just enough to get them integrated—you don’t want to over-mix.
If you have a large roasting pan, put some water in the bottom. I didn’t, so I used my nice cookie sheet. Yay for MacGyver cooking!
Pour the filling into the now-cool crust. There was some leftover filling that I just ate straight out of the bowl…so good! Could have just eaten the cheesecake now, but it would have been a little messy (and, you know, all the raw eggs).
Place the pie pan (or springform) in the roasting pan or wherever you’ve put the water bath. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour, until it’s firm and only moves slightly when the pan is shaken. Let cool for at least 30 minutes.
The recipe says to chill for at least six hours, but we devoured it right away, only an hour after it came out of the oven. It was light, with a slight graininess from the ricotta, sweet, tart, and awesome. I will definitely be making it again in the future.
- 6 ounces of graham crackers (about a package and a half, or half a box)
- 3 ounces unsalted butter, melted (about 6 tablespoons)
- 7 ounces of cream cheese, softened; note, I used the full 8-ounce package, because there weren’t 7-ounce ones)
- 7 ounces of ricotta cheese
- 1 cup of sugar
- 3 eggs
- Juice and zest of a lemon
Preheat the oven to 350. Finely grind the graham crackers in a food processor. Add the melted butter and process until the crumbs are moistened. Press the crumb mixture over the bottom and sides of a pie dish or 8-inch springform pan. Bake about 15 minutes, until the crust is golden. Cool the crust completely on a cooling rack.