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Citrus-Ricotta Cheesecake

Light in texture, traditional Italian cheesecakes are made with ricotta cheese. Here, citrus adds depth to the ricotta; the compote of orange, grapefruit, and vanilla plays off the cake's mellow flavor.

  • Servings: 10

Source: Martha Stewart Living, May 2004


  • 2 cups finely ground ladyfinger cookies (7 ounces)
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 envelope (1/4 ounce) unflavored gelatin
  • 1 cup heavy cream, chilled
  • 2 large eggs, separated, room temperature
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise
  • 1 pound 5 ounces fresh ricotta cheese
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated orange zest
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest plus 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • Pinch of salt
  • Citrus-Vanilla Compote


  1. Stir together cookie crumbs, melted butter, and 1/4 cup sugar in a medium bowl. Press crumb mixture firmly onto bottom and up 1 inch on sides of an 8-inch square or 9-inch round springform pan; set aside.

  2. Sprinkle gelatin over 1/4 cup warm water in a small bowl. Let stand 7 minutes to soften. Stir until gelatin is dissolved; set aside. Beat cream with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form; set aside.

  3. Put egg yolks and remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a medium bowl. Scrape in vanilla seeds; whisk until mixture is pale and thick, about 2 minutes. Add ricotta, zests, lemon juice, salt, and gelatin mixture; gently stir until smooth. Set aside.

  4. Beat egg whites in a clean mixing bowl until they hold stiff peaks. Gently fold whipped cream and then whites with a rubber spatula into ricotta mixture.

  5. Pour filling over crust. Refrigerate, uncovered, 3 hours or overnight. Before unmolding, run a knife around edge of cake. Serve with citrus-vanilla compote.

Cook's Notes

Fresh ricotta cheese, which is creamier than mass-produced ricotta, is crucial to this cake's light texture. This cheesecake, once set, can be wrapped in plastic and refrigerated for up to 3 days. Let stand at room temperature for twenty minutes before serving. Note: Raw eggs should not be used in food prepared for pregnant women, babies, young children, the elderly, or anyone whose health is compromised.

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