Ricotta Cheesecake Sicilian Style 

In ancient Greece mizithra, a soft cheese, mixed with honey and fruits, baked or unbaked, was the primitive form of cheese cake: it was prepared for special occasions or to offer to the gods. 

In the pre-Roman era, when the Greeks colonized Sicily, they trained their cooks to make it, however soon the ricotta cheese, abundantly produced in Sicily, replaced the mizithra.   

In Sicily, a mush made with grain was added to the cheesecake, also bread dough, stuffed with ricotta, honey and fruits, was baked to produce a precursor of the modern cheesecake. 

Later the Romans introduced this primitive form of cheesecake, in all the European areas they dominated.  

Before long, each region made their own version, suitable to their taste and using local ingredients; in Sicily this cake evolved in the baked cassata.

 

The Sicilian ricotta cheesecake is another version of the cassata: the same ingredients used to make it are combined in a simple recipe to produce this delicious dessert prepared on holidays and special occasions. 

In fact the eggs and flour are the main components to bake the sponge, pane di Spagna; the ricotta, sugar and orange zest are the basic elements to make the filling of the Cassata Siciliana. 

 

RicottaCheesecake   

 

To enrich the taste of the ricotta cheesecake, add 2 tablespoons of chocolate chips or chunks, 1 tablespoon of toasted pine nuts and either 3 tablespoons diced candied fruits or raisins; don’t forget to presoak and coat the raisins with flour.  

The filling can be mixed by hand, but we suggest using an electric mixer in order to make it smooth and simplify this part of the preparation.  

 

Ricotta Cheesecake in pan

 

Serve 8 to 12 

Ingredients: 

6 tablespoons melted butter
1 ½ cups finely crushed
shortbread or pasta frolla cookies
2 lb. ricotta cheese
6 oz. granulated sugar
4 large eggs
2 egg yolks 

4 oz. flour 

Fresh zest from 1 orange
1/4 teaspoon vanilla  

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Pinch of salt 

PREPARATION  

 

The Filling 

Ahead of time, in a large bowl, place the flour and sugar, mix well; add the ricotta and blend until smooth. Add the eggs and yolks, one at a time: blend the mixture well and make sure there are no lumps. Add the zest of orange, cinnamon, vanilla and the optional chocolate, pine nuts and candied diced fruits or the raisins. 

Can be prepared ahead of time and kept refrigerated. 

 

The crust 

Preheat the oven to 350 F. 

Combine the crumbed cookies with the butter; in a 9-inch round springform pan press the crumb mixture at the bottom and side of it. 

If you like, use crumbled amaretto cookies to give extra flavor and taste. 

 

 

The Cake 

Mix the filling with a wooden spoon to aerate and make it silky-smooth.  

Pour filling over the crust and smooth the top evenly. 

Bake for 45 minutes at 350 F, then tent with aluminum foil, lower the oven temperature to 325 F and bake it for an additional 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center, comes out clean. 

Cool for 30 minutes and gently remove side of pan.

Sicilian Cheesecake

 

The Serving 

Serve at room temperature and garnish with a light dust of powdered sugar.

 

  

 

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