Many cheesecakes, made only with cream cheese, have a dense and creamy texture. This makes the cheesecakes feel indulgent, but you don’t always want a dessert that feels so heavy. One way to lighten up a cheesecake is by adding ricotta cheese. By blending the ricotta with cream cheese, you still get a good cream cheese flavor but with the much lighter texture of the ricotta cheese. This Ricotta Cheesecake Slice is one of my favorite versions of a ricotta cheese cheesecake because it’s easy to make, easy to serve and a pleasure to eat.
The cheesecake is baked in a large 9×13-inch baking dish on top of a shortbread crust. This gives you a thinner layer of cheesecake than you might get from a recipe that is baked in a deep, round pan, but it also gives you a dessert that can serve a crowd and is easy to transport. The cheesecake is made with a blend of ricotta and cream cheese, and flavored with vanilla. It has a light, delicate texture and delivers a good cheesecake flavor but feels much airier than a regular cheesecake.
The shortbread crust I used as the base is just as easy to make as the cheesecake, and is simply pressed into the bottom of the pan before baking. It is buttery and lightly sweet, but to add a little more flavor to this batch of cheesecake, I added fresh lemon zest to the crust. The resulting shortbread is good enough that you could eat it by itself, but it adds a delicious pop of lemon to the cheesecake. It brightens the dish up, yet allows the flavor of the ricotta, cream cheese and lemon to still shine.
This type of cheesecake can be cut into any size slices. Smaller slices make a good size for a snack or to take to a party, while larger slices topped with a pile of fresh fruit are perfect for dessert after a nice dinner. Small slivers can also be sliced as needed if the chef (i.e. you) needs something to nibble on in the kitchen. The cheesecake keeps well for several days in the fridge when kept well-wrapped, but should be sliced before serving to keep the crust as crisp as possible.
Ricotta Cheesecake Slice with Lemon Shortbread Crust
1/3 cup sugar (pref. vanilla sugar)
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp lemon zest
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup half and half
1 (8-oz) packages plain cream cheese, room temperature
8 oz ricotta cheese
3 large eggs, room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking pan.
Begin by making the crust. In a large bowl, cream together sugar and butter, until smooth and fluffy. Working at a low speed, gradually beat in flour, salt and lemon zest until mixture is crumbly. Press evenly into prepared pan and bake for 15-17 minutes.
While the crust bakes, combine sugar, half & half, ricotta and cream cheese in the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth. Add in eggs one at a time, waiting until each in incorporated before adding the next. Stir in vanilla extract. Pulse until smooth. This can also be combined with a regular mixer.
Pour the filling over the hot crust when it comes out of the oven (crust must still be hot!). Return pan to oven and bake for 22-25 minutes, until the filling is set.
Cool completely before slicing or refrigerate until ready to serve.
Makes 20-24 bars.