Squirrel!

If that word made you smile or laugh, then you have seen the animated film "Up" and you recall that, when least expected, the dogs were easily distracted by the sight of a squirrel.

Distracted - that's me. My main goal with this site is to record family favourites, but I get distracted - especially when I come across a recipe that seems to match a taste / eating memory that - for lack of a recipe - I have not yet been able to replicate. I have long been on the hunt for a cheesecake recipe with a particular texture - not dry, but not smooth. I have assumed it's base is ricotta. 

There seem to be so many variations on cheesecake - I won't even attempt to begin describing flavour and texture profiles. The latest cheesecake craze in Toronto seems to be for Uncle Tetsu's Cheesecake - originating and popular in Japan. It has been making appearances at pop-up markets. It's fine - and expensive - and I admit that I am not sure what all the fuss is about. Apparently many countries/cultures lay claim to the invention of cheesecake, though evidence has been found that a type of cheesecake was made by ancient Greeks. Heston Blumental claims its origins are English. {Source]. Wikipedia further outlines that North American cheesecakes are made more often using cream cheese, with ricotta used in Italy, and quark in Germany and some other European countries. 

Squirrel!

Ok, so not only am I distracted by this recipe, but then I read the word "quark". I used to use quark often and was able to buy this at my local delicatessen, but have not seen it for some time. (Today, they said it comes in once a week and the small shipment is snatched up right away - sigh.) My brain starts to hurt when my reading/research goes on to say that quark and ricotta are not the same!? Something - that I did not understand -  to do with the process. (This "how to" site offers insights.) Quark is also referred to as "farmer's cheese" - and that was good to know since I have come across recipes that call for farmer's cheese and have wondered - huh? In any case, i use ricotta for this and my latest favourite is the 500g package called Santa Lucia - an award-winning Canadian ricotta.

There are also many crust variations linked to cheesecake, such as - no crust, graham cracker, ginger snap etc. For this cheesecake, the top and bottom layers resemble a "blintz" or a soft European crepe / pancake.

One last tangent before the recipe... In addition to cookbooks, various rooms in my home begin to accumulate piles of food magazines. My habit is to turn in the corner on pages of interest. Eventually, as piles get unwieldy and unsightly, I begin to rip out pages - with the intent of filing them. If you're predicting that piles of magazine pages begin to accumulate - yup - you know me too well, or have similar bad habits. Somewhere out of this chaos, a magazine page with a photo of this cheesecake surfaced - from Longo's Magazine. But... the page said to visit their site for the recipe, and that 2010 recipe was no longer showing up. After some creative and relentless searching I found the recipe buried in the Longo's site, as well as a blog that re-created the recipe. Along the way I found a 2008 version from Ina Garten, and her recipe also appears in her 2008 Back to Basics book - under "breakfasts"! - and in truth the photo does not look that appealing, so her book would never have inspired me to make this.  Lastly I found a 1999 version from The New Jewish Holiday Cookbook, which called it a casserole!? I don't often engage in an extensive read of recipe comment sections  - but the latter one had a long trail of feedback with not everyone voting for "making it again". I got the impression this was a family classic in many Jewish homes - thus many, and varying, opinions about "how to's".

I went mainly with the Longo's recipe, which had slightly modified Ina's. This recipe combines ricotta and cream cheese, whereas Ina combines ricotta and mascarpone. Cream cheese tends to have 30-40% less calories than mascarpone. Bonus for me - now that I have mentioned mascarpone, I will permit myself to share a pet peeve - the pronunciation of MAScarpone. I have seen celebrities on national TV, as well as reputable chefs, call this MARscapone. Ok, having ranted publicly, maybe now I can let this one go...  who said blogging was not therapeutic.

And finally the recipe... It is baked in a large 13 x 9 " baking / Pyrex dish and can serve 12-16 depending on the size of squares you cut. Getting ready: bring eggs (5), ricotta and cream cheese (8 oz) to room temperature. Melt butter and let it cool slightly. For efficiency, pre-measure all other ingredients; grate lemon and extract juice. Grease baking dish. Note that there's a two-stage bake. Preheat the oven to 350F.

With Rhubarb Sauce

With Rhubarb Sauce

With Blueberry / Orange Sauce

With Blueberry / Orange Sauce

1 cup milk
3 eggs
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup all purpose flour
3 TB granulated sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Step one - the bottom (and top) layer: Using a blender or mixer, combine the milk, eggs, butter and vanilla.

Add the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt and mix or blend until combined and smooth.

Pour half of the batter into 13 x 9 inch greased baking dish. Note: I found there was about 2 2/3 cups of batter, so half would be 1 1/3 cups. Set aside the remaining batter for step two.

Bake in 350°F oven for about 10 minutes or until set.


1 bag (500 g) fresh ricotta cheese
1 pkg (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs

2 tsp grated lemon rind
2 TB lemon juice
1 TB icing sugar

Step two - filling and top layer: Meanwhile, in a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat together ricotta and cream cheese with sugar until smooth.

Beat in eggs, lemon rind and juice. Spread the filling mixture onto the baked layer in the baking dish. (Depending upon your timing, that layer might have cooled a wee bit, or still be quite warm from the oven. Either seems to be fine.) 

Onto the cheese filling, carefully pour over batter remaining from step one (about 1 1/3 cups) and spread evenly. Return to oven and bake for about 30 minutes or until puffed and light golden. 


Serving suggestions - countless ways to serve:

  • Sprinkle with icing sugar before serving.
  • Longo's suggested a Blueberry Sauce: in a saucepan, bring 3 cups of frozen (or fresh) blueberries, 1/3 cup of orange juice and 1/4 cup granulated sugar to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 3 minutes or until blueberries are softened.
  • It has been rhubarb season and so I also made the cheesecake with a variation of this Canadian Living Rhubarb Sauce: cook together 4 cups sliced fresh rhubarb (1/2-inch lengths), 2/3 cups granulated sugar, 4 teaspoons ginger marmalade to desired consistency. (I used only about 1/3 cup of sugar).

Notes and Tips...

  • Surprise -  no big tips on this one other than what's mentioned above.
  • Store in refrigerator.
  • For KB Recipe Attribution Practices please click here.

<== Questions or Comments about this recipe? Visit the Recipe Q. C. page - looking forward to hearing from you!

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