Souffles are a fun dessert to make when you feel like baking something a little bit fancy, because many souffle recipes are not difficult to execute and they look very impressive when they’re done. One of my favorite souffle recipes is for my Yogurt Cheesecake Souffles, which capture the flavor of a cheesecake in a much lighter package. Cream cheese and yogurt aren’t the only ingredients used in cheesecake. Ricotta cheese is a versatile cheese that can add some lovely texture to a cheesecake – and it can also turn into another fantastic cheesecake souffle! These Vanilla Bean Ricotta Cheesecake Souffles are a great dessert, whether you’re looking an alternative to a traditional cheesecake or for a fantastic new souffle recipe to add to your repertoire.
The base of the souffle is very similar to a cheesecake batter, made with ricotta cheese, sugar, eggs, vanilla and a bit of flour. The main difference between this recipe and a traditional cheesecake is that the eggs are separated and the whites are folded in to the rest of the base. Ricotta cheesecakes are often flavored with lemon zest and cinnamon, but I opted to use vanilla beans to give the souffle a rich vanilla flavor. This recipe makes a small batch, so I only needed to use half of a vanilla bean to infuse the ricotta mixture with a lot of flavor and make sure that every bite had plenty of vanilla bean specks in it! The souffle is light and not too sweet, with a good vanilla and ricotta flavor to it. It is excellent on its own, and can be paired with fresh fruit or a fruit sauce to dress it up even more.
The souffles are fairly sturdy and they won’t fall if you open the oven door to check them for doneness, however they will fall somewhat after you take them out of the oven and they begin to cool down. Fortunately, these souffles are just as delicious when they have “fallen” as they are when they are puffed up. The fallen souffles have a denser, more cheesecake-like texture to them that is tasty at room temperature and when chilled. The souffles look like pretty little cakes when they fall, so if you turn them out of their ramekins, no one will ever know that they weren’t supposed to look that way in the first place! That being said, this recipe is very straightforward and you should have no problems with them turning out picture-perfect, even if this is your first souffle.
Vanilla Bean Ricotta Cheesecake Souffles
1 cup plain ricotta cheese
3 large egg yolks
3 large egg whites, room temperature
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 vanilla bean (or 2 1/2 tsp vanilla extract)
1/3 cup sugar
butter and sugar, for ramekins
Preheat the oven to 400F.
Butter six 6-oz. ramekins.* Pour a small amount of sugar into each and roll the ramekins to coat (just like flouring a pan). Set on a baking sheet.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together ricotta cheese, egg yolks, flour, and salt.
Cut the vanilla bean in half with a paring knife and scrape out the seeds. Add to egg yolk mixture and stir to incorporate.
In a medium mixing bowl, beat egg whites until foamy. Gradually stream in sugar and continue beating on medium-high speed until all sugar has been incorporated and egg whites have reached soft peaks.
Working in two or three batches, gently fold egg whites in to yolk mixture with a whisk or a spatula. Make sure all egg whites have been fully incorporated.
Divide mixture evenly into ramekins, using about 1/2 cup in each and leaving ramekins on the baking tray.
Bake for about 15 minutes, until evenly risen and lightly browned on top.
*You can make four larger 8-oz servings by extending the baking time by about 5 minutes.