Baby LOVES this cheesecake, it is so funny! When you bring it to the table, he squeals and reaches for it urgently! Don't worry, adults love it, too! This cheesecake is great- it has a chocolate graham cracker crust, which is seriously a breeze to whip up, and because you use mascarpone instead of cream cheese, the batter comes together with greater ease because mascarpone is softer. I used meyer lemon zest, but only because they looked so pretty at the supermarket. You don't have to use meyer lemons, regular lemons are fine! You can also use a portion of orange zest, which is delicous, and will give you a pretty good proxy for meyer lemon zest (meyer lemons are 'orangey' in flavor). I also must tell you that I normally do not care for cheesecake- I find it a little too dense. However, because this batter has whipped egg whites, it has a light, fluffy texture which is delightful! I hope you like this as much as we do!
Ricotta and Mascarpone Cheesecake with Meyer Lemon Zest
6 eggs, separated
15 ounces ricotta cheese (whole milk)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. vanilla powder
zest of 1 to 1 1/2 meyer lemons
16 ounces mascarpone cheese (allowed to sit for a little while at room temperature)
3/4 cup sugar
Chocolate Graham Cracker Crust
3 cups chocolate graham crackers
1 stick unsalted butter
1 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 Tbsp. sugar
Preheat your oven to 325. You can make this in either a 9 or 10" round pan, I recommend a pan with removable sides, or, you can make this in a square brownie pan- this is what I did, just because squares of cheesecake are a little easier to share with friends or transport. You'll need the sides of whatever pan you use to be fairly deep- probably at least 3 or 4 inches. To start, let's make our crust! I used chocolate teddy bear shaped graham crackers from whole foods. I measured 3 cups while they were still in cookie form, but 1 3/4 cups after I put them through the food processor to make them into fine crumbs. You may use regular graham crackers, or chocolate 'wafer' cookies also. So go ahead and make your cookies into fine crumbs in the food processor. Next, combine the crumbs in a bowl with the unsweetened cocoa powder and sugar. Lastly, add the (melted) stick of unsalted butter and stir well with a spoon or spatula. What could be easier? Your crust is ready! Press your crust into your pan, no need to grease the pan. I spread the crust out first with a spatula, then I press it down all over with my fingers to pack it nicely.
Now for our delicious cheesecake filling! Separate your eggs, and set aside the whites. Add the ricotta to the egg yolks, stir to combine. Next, add the vanilla powder and extract, sugar and meyer lemon zest. If you like a lot of citrus flavor, go for 1 1/2 meyer lemons' zest, if you like less citrus flavor, go for maybe just 1/2 of one of the meyer lemons. Lastly, add the mascarpone. Mix well, until the batter is smooth.