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Monday, April 1, 2013

Italian Cheesecake with Strawberries

Last month my family and I ate at my favorite NYC restaurant, Becco and had the pleasure of sharing a piece of their delicious Italian Cheesecake with Strawberries for dessert.   The texture was so creamy, it had a hint of orange flavor and a delicious crust.  Since we don't go to the city that often, I had to try to recreate it at home to enjoy whenever I wanted to.  Here are the results of my recreation of this decadent, delicious cheesecake: Italian Cheesecake with a combination of Ricotta and Mascarpone cheeses, baked on an amaretti and graham cracker cookie crust, topped with macerated strawberries and strawberry sauce, it's so good I can't stop eating it, hope you love it too ♥ 

 1/2 cup crushed amaretti cookies
1/2 cup crushed graham cracker cookies
 3 1/2 Tbsp unsalted butter melted
 1 Tbsp sugar
2 lbs whole milk ricotta cheese, drained to remove excess liquid
1 lb mascarpone cheese
1 1/2 cups sugar
6 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1/4 cup heavy cream
1  1/2 Tbsp orange zest
2 tsps. pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp aroma millefiori concentrate (flower essence) ~ can be found in Italian specialty stores
1 quart of strawberries
1 Tbsp sugar
Strawberry sauce ~ optional
2-3 of the sliced strawberries and 2 tsps of the strawberry liquid from the macerated strawberries
1 tsp cornstarch
3 Tbsp water
2 Tbsp strawberry jam or preserves
Spray a 9"  springform pan with baking spray and preheat oven to 325 degrees.    Prepare crust:  in a food processor crush amaretti cookies and graham crackers to fine crumbs to equal 1 cup cookie crumbs.  Add the melted butter and sugar and process until incorporated.  Press crust into bottom of pan and up along sides, and bake in the oven for 8 minutes on a lined cookie sheet.  Cheesecake batter:  in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment beat the ricotta, mascarpone and sugar together until smooth.  Then add the eggs, zest, cream, vanilla and flower concentrate and mix well until thoroughly incorporated and smooth.   Pour batter over crust and bake on center rack for 1 hour and 15 minutes, rotating the pan gently throughout to insure even baking.  Turn off the oven and let rest inside for 20 minutes.  Let cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate overnight.  While cheesecake is cooking, wash and slice the strawberries and place in a bowl with the 1 Tbsp sugar.  Stir and cover, refrigerate overnight ~ the next morning the strawberries will be red and juicy and can be used alone to top the cheesecake or served alongside it.  If additional strawberry sauce is desired, in a small pot ~ cook on low-med heat all of the sauce ingredients, stirring the cornstarch in well with a fork to dissolve, until slightly thickened.  Serve sauce alongside cheesecake, top each slice with strawberries and drizzle with sauce.  Dust slices with powdered sugar if desired.

Out of the oven, just set and lightly golden

Macerating the strawberries to draw out the sweetness and juices

Served with the strawberries and sauce
Yummy crust

I use this excellent leak-proof cheesecake pan, available in my baking store:
Nordic Ware Leakproof Springform Pan, 10 Cup, 9 Inch