I am no fan of cakes, but I do love ricotta-based sweets. So a ricotta cheesecake felt like the perfect choice.
Here is a light, simple version of it. It is not only good as a dessert, but also makes a great breakfast. Also, sorry this cake looks fugly, I didn;t have a springform and decided to follow the ‘fake it + make it’ rule.
Whatever yogurt you pick, make sure it’s a good quality yogurt free of any added crap or starches. You’ll surely find some local business or farmers that makes good yogurt.
Obviously, if you lack alternatives, Cow’s milk products work great as well. Vanilla Skyr, like Siggi’s, are great. Do not worry about the different consistency.
Regular milk is also a good substitute for plant milk.
Chocolate & Pear Ricotta Cheesecake
(Makes a 24 cm / 9 inch cheesecake)
For the base:
- 2 eggs;
- 60g brown sugar;
- 1 tbsp Cocoa powder;
- 20g Almond meal;
- 40g Potato starch.
For the filling:
- 250g Natural, full fat vanilla yogurt, preferably sheep’s milk* (see note above);
- 300g Good quality fresh ricotta, preferably sheep’s milk* (see note above);
- 150ml almond or hazelnut milk;
- 3g Agar-agar powder;
- A ripe Williams pear;
- Juice of half a lemon;
- 1 Tbsp honey** or maple syrup;
- A pinch of cinnamon;
- 70% dark chocolate shavings or chips.
For the topping:
- A Williams pear;
- 2 Tbsps honey or maple syrup;
- A vanilla bean;
- Juice of half a lemon.
Melted 70% dark chocolate or chocolate shavings, or chopped roasted hazelnuts, to serve.
MAKE THE COOKIE BASE
- Preheat the oven to 180 C˚/ 350 F˚.
- Break the eggs in a bowl and add the sugar, then beat them for at least 5 minutes, until fluffy and foamy. Sift in the cocoa and starch, and add the almond meal. Pour this mixture into the springform pan and bake for about 20 minutes. It should have a macaron-like consistency, crispy on the outside and soft, slightly chewy on the inside. Check with a toothpick to make sure it is cooked through.
MAKE THE CHEESECAKE MIXTURE
- In the meantime, make the top of the cake.
- Cut up the pear into cubes, and sauté them with the honey, lemon juice and a pinch of cinnamon on medium-high for about 5 minutes, until the pears are soft and the lemon juice and honey combine in a glossy coating.
- In a glass or steel bowl, whip the ricotta, and pass it through a sieve if it is not very creamy. You can combine it with some sweetener, which I did not use since vanilla yogurts tend to be quite sweet. Whip it with the yogurt and combine well. Now, we need to heat this mixture up with the bain-marie technique: heat a pot of water until boiling, then put the bowl on the pot. The bowl should not touch the water, but be very close to it, so make sure to use bowls & pots of appropriate dimensions and the right amount of water. Heat the mixture well (if you have a thermometer, it should be at about 50C˚/120F˚, then turn off the heat, but leave the bowl on the pot.
- In another pot, dissolve the agar agar in the almond milk, adding it a little by little. Bring to a soft boil, and boil for 3 minutes, then pour into the ricotta-yogurt mixture and combine well. Add the cooked pears too, along with all their juices, and the chocolate chips if using.
- Let this whole mixture cool down before pouring it onto the cookie base into the springform pan. Transfer to the fridge and let it set – it will take at least 3 hours.
FINISHING IT OFF
- Slice another pear into thin wedges, and add them to a pan with the lemon juice and scraped vanilla bean. Cook them on high, arranging them in a single layer, until well browned. Once the cake is set, you can use the slices and the juices to decorate the top.
Serve with some melted chocolate, the juice from the sautéed pears and roasted nuts.