Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Italian cheesecake

I often make this cheesecake for pudding or for teatime. The cheesecake can be put together in 10 minutes and it’s quick to bake. The base is made with amaretti biscuits, which gives the cake a wonderfully chewy texture that works brilliantly with the creamy top layer.

If you are feeling very indulgent and fancy a rich cake, you can use mascarpone cheese. For a lighter, more fluffy cake use ricotta cheese.

Serve with fresh berries when they are season. When berries are not in season this cheesecake is great served with a compote made from frozen berries.

Prep 10 minutes
Cooking time 35 minutes

85g (3oz) unsalted butter, plus some butter to grease the tin
175g (6oz) amaretti biscuits
400g (14oz) mascarpone OR ricotta cheese
finely grated zest of 3 unwaxed lemons, juice of 1 lemon
115g (4oz) caster sugar
2 eggs, separated
2 tbsp cornflour
1 tsp vanilla essence
pinch of salt

1.Preheat the oven to 180 C/350 F/gas mark 4. Butter and line with parchment paper the base of a 20cm/8in loose-bottomed cake tin.

2. Put the amaretti biscuits into a plastic bag and crush them with a rolling pin. Melt the butter, put the crushed biscuits and butter into a bowl and mix. Put all of the mixture in the baking tin and press down into an even layer.

3. Put the mascarpone (or ricotta), lemon zest and juice, vanilla, sugar and egg yolks into a bowl and mix together with a wooden spoon.  Put the cornflour into the bowl and mix.

4. In a separate clean bowl, whisk the eggs whites with the salt until they form stiff peaks (like a meringue). Fold the egg whites into the cheese mixture.

5. Spread the mixture on top of the biscuit in the cake tin. Smooth off the top.

6. Bake the cheesecake for 35 minutes. The cake should be firm to the touch. Once cooked, leave the cake in the tin to cool.

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