Sunday, September 25, 2005

Orange and Chocolate Cheesecake

"Oh please, not another cheesecake!" do I hear you say? Not to worry, this will be the last cheesecake for a while, since it completes my beloved ricotta cheesecakes trio. All three recipes are from The Book of Cheesecakes by Steven Wheeler with some modifications, some minor and some not so minor. (For the other two ricotta cheesecakes, see Chocolate and Pecan Cheesecake and White Chocolate and Chestnut Cheesecake.) Believe me, it is not that I love cheesecakes; in fact, cheesecakes are normally even a little too heavy for me. I typically enjoy a bite or too, and look around to share my portion. But ricotta cheesecakes are almost in a different category, much lighter in taste, calories and texture. As a bonus, this one also features oranges which is one of my favorite chocolate pairings.

This time, I modified the recipe by giving it a chocolatey crust instead of the traditional cookie crumb one, and topped it with ganache and chocolate shavings. (As you can see, when it comes to chocolate, I like to exhaust my options.) Thanks to ricotta and the small amount of sugar in the recipe, the result was still on the lighter side in taste.

Last but not least, I want to say that this cheesecake is a snap to make. If you do not want to bother with the dough crust, you can use the traditional cookie crust, or maybe even bake it without one. It is equally delicious with a whipped cream topping, or without any. Alternatively, you can use kumquats or slices of oranges for decoration hinting at the taste sensation to follow. Definitely a great choice when you have to make dessert for a crowd, this recipe can be tripled without any problems.

  • 3/4 c flour
  • 2 tbs sugar
  • Dash of salt
  • 1/4 c cold butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 bs melted chocolate
  • 1 1/2 lb ricotta
  • 1/4 c packed brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • Finely grated peel and juice of orange
  • 1 tsp orange flower water, if desired (Iused less than 1 tsp of it)
  • 2/3 c whipping cream
  • 7 oz chocolate, cut into pieces
  • 3 oz chocolate, cut into pieces
  • 1/2 c whipping cream
  • Chocolate curls and powdered sugar (if desired)
Preheat oven to 350F. To prepare crust, combine the flour, sugar and salt. Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter until crumbly. Add the melted chocolate and stir until a chocolatey dough forms (I ended up using my hands to form a uniformly chocolatey dough). Press in bottom of ungreased 8" or 9" springform pan. Set aside.

To prepare filling, beat ricotta cheese, brown sugar, eggs, orange peel and juice and orange flower water, if desired, in a large bowl until smooth. Bring whipping cream to a boil in a small saucepan. Remove from heat. Stir in chocolate until melted; beat into cheese mixture until smooth. Pour this into the prepared springform pan. Bake 45 minutes or until set. (Center should still be softish. ) Cool before you remove from the pan.

Prepare chocolate ganache by melting chocolate in hot whipping cream, just like you did for the cheesecake. Cool somewhat; and pour over the cooled cheesecake. At this point, you can leave it as is, or decorate with chocolate shavings and a quick dusting of powdered sugar.