Hello, hello from new motherhood. We went to New York, upstate & the city, a working vacation of sorts last week. I turned my brain off. Let my inbox froth over. And then I got home. I was supposed to hit the ground running—recipes, photoshoots, moving into our house. And, you know, having a baby. We have help, glorious indispensable help. But it still completely dwarfed me. My creativity flat lined. I lost it over a failed FedEx errand & 5 PM Friday traffic. And then I woke up this morning. Sort of. Somewhere between morning and the middle of the night. I sat downstairs digging out of my inbox until the sun came up. And then I pulled this white chocolate ricotta cheesecake out of the fridge where it had been setting over night. And it was perfect; my platonic ideal of ricotta cheesecake made with buddha’s hand lemon, spices, and Lindt LINDOR White Chocolate Truffles. And the light was perfect. And I felt the sun streaming back into my soul. So it goes.
I’ve loved white chocolate ricotta cheesecake ever since I was a kid; the Ameri-talian restaurant we always went to when I was little, Provino’s, served it. I liked the almost cakey texture, the mild sweetness. As with most food memories, who knows how good it really was, but I’d always had this platonic idea of ricotta cheesecake in my mind. This is that.
I adapted / stole the idea of cornmeal in it for texture from a Bon App recipe that uses matzo meal. Southernized it, if you will. Added flour and an extra egg for cakiness and kicks. Reduced the sugar because I like it mild; you could increase it by 100 grams if you like it sweet. Buddha’s hand lemon zest because I saw them at the store and am entranced by their floral aroma & spindly fingers (they make the fridge smell amazing, for once)—of course you can use meyer or regular lemons. But you know, if you happen upon those mutants, go for it. Preserve any leftovers & everything will be beautiful. I added cardamom & nutmeg for a bit of winter, holiday warmth, a pinch of sea salt. Biscoff crust (I think amaretti biscuits would be divine and perhaps preferable but they weren’t to be had), and really it’s more of a coating than a crust. And then liquid gold: melted Lindt LINDOR White Chocolate Truffles. Lick the bowl.
This cake will puff up in the oven, then slowly it will hunker down into itself. Don’t fret. It should; give it time to do so. I like to make this a day ahead or at the very least first thing in the morning. Bake it in a bain marie, don’t be daunted. It’s as easy as making tea. Do wrap your spring form pan in aluminum up the the top to prevent leakage into the pan, a lesson hard won.
As someone who has a hard time imagining Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie or Christmas without my grandmother’s chocolate pie, I suggest you at least add this unexpected hit to your classic holiday repertoire. This will definitely be gracing our holiday table, a new classic for the next generation. Maybe Eula will grow up not being able to imagine Thanksgiving without mom’s ricotta cake. A girl can dream.
White Chocolate Ricotta Cheesecake
- 2 15 oz containers whole milk ricotta, drained overnight or at least 1 hour
- 5 Biscoff cookies, ground to a powder
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 5 oz bag of white chocolate Lindt LINDOR White Chocolate Truffles, melted & room temp
- 2 8 oz packages of cream cheese
- 17 grams (2 tablespoons) cornmeal
- 30 grams (about 1/4 cup) all purpose flour
- 100 grams (half a cup) granulated sugar + 1 teaspoon
- seeds of 5 cardamom pods, ground to a powder
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon of flaky salt
- 3 eggs
- 3 teaspoons zest buddha's hand lemon (meyer or regular will do)
- powdered sugar for dusting
- Drain ricotta in a cheesecloth lined sieve, preferably overnight but at least an hour. Unless you have a particularly dry ricotta.
- Heat oven to 350°F (180°C).
- Grind your biscoff cookies to a powder (I use a mini cuisinart, but you can use a plastic bag and a rolling pin if you don't have an appliance) with 1 teaspoon of the sugar. Grease an 8 x 2" springform pan with the butter. Dust to coat with the biscoff crumbs, tapping out the excess. Coat it by shaking the pan around, not by using your fingers. Wrap the entire pan with tinfoil to prevent water leaking in from the bain marie.
- Melt the chocolate in a bowl set above a pot of simmering water. Set aside to cool to room temp.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment whip the cream cheese until light and fluffy, scraping down the bowl once or twice.
- Add the ricotta and beat until smooth and combined, scraping down the bowl at least once.
- Add in the cornmeal, flour, 100 grams of sugar, cardamom, nutmeg, salt, and melted chocolate. Beat on medium-high until combined.
- Add the eggs one at a time, beating until combined and smooth.
- Fold in the zest with a spatula. And put a kettle or two of water on to boil.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Place the pan in a roasting pan large enough for it to sit flat. Mine is slightly small but I prop it with wads of tinfoil to keep it stable.
- Open the oven, pull out the rack, and set the pan on it. Pour your boiling water into the roasting pan, about an inch up the side of your spring form pan, and slide it in the oven.
- Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes, until just set. It will still be a little jiggly & golden brown. Remove from bain marie and let cool to room temperature. Chill in the fridge for one hour after that, and then cover it and cool an additional 3 hour or overnight. It's normal for it to deflate. Yours will be taller than mine because I used a 10 x 3" pan due to that being all I had.
- Pop the mold off, let come to room temp or at least get the chill off, dust with powdered sugar & a little more lemon zest, slice, and serve. I use a cake mover (a giant round spatula type thing, to move it off the metal base if need be).