You ever feel after a great nights sleep (are those even still possible?) that an elephant is sitting on your eyeballs?
I’m on cup of coffee numero tres and am considering stapling my eyelids to my brow bone right now just to get me through until my mid afternoon nap. Yes, that is part of my routine. And trust me, if you saw my raccoon eyes that you would probably mistake for last nights mascara (false, dark rings in their natural habitat), then you would probably agree that my peepers need any shut eye that they can get.
But then again, maybe having a glass of wine with this Italian Cheesecake last night at ohhhhh I don’t know, midnight, probably wasn’t the smartest choice. Currently battling a never-ending sugar crash and maybe some lactose intolerance.
Italian Cheesecake with a blend of both ricotta & mascarpone and topped with a sweet and tart rhubarb raspberry sauce makes for an incredibly light and airy dessert basically forcing you to have both seconds and thirds.
First off, before I get into any ingredient/instructional notes, this cake is clutch for any spring/summer gathering. Seriously. Just make sure you have a fridge to keep it preserved until consumption. This cake does not take nicely to a tan.
You should be able to purchase Lady Fingers at your local grocery store (found in the cookie aisle) however if they aren’t anywhere to be found feel free to use a classic graham cracker crust, or, with most italian cheesecakes, just let it go all natural, meaning, no crust. But where’s the fun in that?
Fresh ricotta is best for this, however if that isn’t available don’t fret. Just be sure to let your ricotta drain over a bowl in a fine mesh strainer if it holds a lot of liquid. This will prevent your cake from becoming too mushy (however the mascarpone definitely helps prevent this from happening).
I prefer fresh vanilla bean because of the pure taste it gives, however good ol’ fashioned pure vanilla extract works just fine. I also love the little specks the vanilla bean gives off, makes the cake seem more sophisticated.
Cooking time definitely varies, depending on the strength of your oven, so keep a close eye after an hour and twenty. You don’t want to remove the cake too jiggly or else it will be rather difficult to slice into. Because we are using ricotta and not cream cheese as the base, this is a lot lighter, and fluffier in texture. So you want it to cook through.
Patience is a virtue. I don’t have any.
- 1 cup lady finger cookies (or crushed graham crackers)
- 2 tbsp butter, softened
- 2 lb ricotta (drained if necessary)
- 8 oz mascarpone
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup all purpose flour
- 6 eggs, separated
- ¼ tsp salt
- ½ tsp cream tartar
- 1 vanilla bean pod, scraped (or 2 tsp vanilla extract)
- 2 cups rhubarb (about 2 - 3 stalks)
- 1 cup raspberries
- ½ raspberries, halved
- ⅓ cup water
- ⅔ cup granulated sugar
- First preheat your oven to 325.
- In a food processor add your lady finger cookie and pulse until fine crumbs are produced. Add your 2 tbsp softened butter, and pulse again until just mixed.
- Butter and Flour a 9" spring foam pan and then add the butter crumb mixture to bottom of pan. Press down into pan and then set aside.
- Next using an electric mixer, add your six egg whites (that have already been separated), salt and cream of tartar. Whisk first for one minute on low speed until eggs are frothy, and then bring speed up to medium and whisk until soft peaks form. Set aside.
- In a large bowl add your ricotta, mascarpone, sugar, flour and egg yolks. With an electric mixer, mix over medium speed until mix is light and fluffy. Add your vanilla bean and egg whites. Fold into mix.
- Place cheese filling into spring foam pan, being sure to smooth and level out top. Place in oven for 1½ hours or until top turns a nice golden yellow / brown and is firm to touch.
- Remove from oven and set on a wired rack to cool for about 1 hour room temperature, and then at least 2 hours in the fridge.
- While the cheesecake is cooling begin your sauce.
- In a small pot add your water and granulated sugar, bring to a boil.
- Add your rhubarb and raspberries (halved and whole), reduce heat to medium and continue to cook for about 5-8 minutes. Once the rhubarb has reached a soft texture remove sauce from heat and let cool. Place in fridge until ready to use (the sauce will begin to thicken as it cools).
- Carefully remove cake from spring foam pan and pour sauce on top. Serve.