White Chocolate Ricotta Cheesecake – It Doesn’t Taste Like Cheesecake Factory

white chocolate ricotta cheesecake
With the three randomly chosen ricotta cheese, almond paste (or some suitably nutty substitute), and white chocolate, as well as the special seasonal strawberries, I made a White Chocolate Ricotta Cheesecake in Almond Crust with Fresh Berries. We had it for dessert after our Mother’s Day luncheon, and with more than half of it leftover, I brought the rest in to the office to share with co-workers. It sounds good. It tastes good. Well, at least to me. For everyone else, well, here’s a summary dramatization of the dialogue:

Others: How pretty! What is this? A cheesecake?
Sarah: A ricotta cheesecake. (They taste.)
Others: It doesn’t taste like a cheesecake. It’s kinda grainy.
Sarah: Well, it’s made with ricotta, not cream cheese, so it’s different.
Others: Oh. Cheesecake Factory tastes better.

Ooooo. K. They didn’t get it. I probably should have called it a ricotta cheese tart. Or a pie.


if it looks like a cheesecake…

Ricotta cheesecake is not totally new to me. When my best friend from college did her short stint as the pastry chef at Campanile, she would bring home leftover pastries from La Brea Bakery, as well as Nancy-Silverton-inspired desserts from the restaurant. Chocolate tart. Various sorbets. And one week, an experiment with ricotta cheesecake with currants. I actually had a first reaction in the same vein as my tasters this past weekend. But after she brought it home several nights in a row, it grew on me. It doesn’t taste like a traditional thick and creamy, dense and heavy cheesecake made with cream cheese. The ricotta cheese, even after a whirl in a food processor, makes it grainy. Instead of adding whole eggs, the whites are whipped to soft peaks, giving the cake a much lighter texture, somewhat spongy. It’s kind of like an airy, grainy custard.

The egg whites of course, make the cake rise like a balloon while baking, and when removed from the oven, rapidly deflate like it’s forgotten to take it’s Prozac. Even with a water bath, my dark and deeply cracked cake needed some extra moisturizing with a heavy dose of SPF. Thank goodness that I was going to conceal that mess of a top with fresh strawberries (and Jenn’s addition of “they have antioxidants!” blueberries).


dark and cracked, looking desert dry…

…but nothing fresh strawberries can’t hide!

The almond paste is what threw me. I’ve never used it before, and only knew of it in its marzipan form. Was I going to sit around my little dining table in my apartment on a Saturday afternoon with perfect L.A. weather outside, meticulously forming and shaping tiny marzipan somethings? No way. I’m good, but not that good. Okay, so I’m not really good at all, which is why I simply added finely crushed almonds to the graham cracker crust.

And though I didn’t have to peer through a magnifying glass, making tiny hand-crafted marzipan thingies, I did end up with my face dangerously close to a very sharp object, trying to make white chocolate cigarettes for the top of the cake. Adding melted white chocolate to the ricotta cheese batter was easy. Shaving white chocolate into perfect, unbroken curls is not. *eh* I gave up and settled for the white chocolate shards. Good enough, especially since it didn’t taste anything like the Cheesecake Factory.

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  • T

    funny how the name alters people’s perceptions of food. even if it doesnt taste like cheesecake factory, it looks beautiful and i certainly wouldnt say no to a piece :-)

  • linden

    your cheesecake looks lovely. i know i would also much prefer a slice of your wonderful creation to anything purchased from the cheesecake factory.

  • Jennifer

    Sarah,

    This is beautiful! I can definitely see all the care and craftsmanship that went into making this cheesecake. I’d take a slice from you anytime!

  • Mel CH

    Gorgeous! And I’ll bet that you got those strawberries and blueberries from, hm, the farmers market?!? Now I must wonder which one…

  • Owen

    Sarah – lovely cheescake – your coworkers are the ones missing out – I insulted them appropriately in my writeup of all the entries at http://www.tomatilla.com

  • Eve

    If you have any left over I will come right over and eat it…just let me know :)

  • Foodie Universe

    I used to have this amazing yet somehow different cheesecake at a Persian restaurant in St. Louis. I think it was ricotta cheesecake! I may have to make some.

    It really is a very aesthetically pleasing cheesecake. You also photograph food well.

  • David

    Oh, you reacted mildly! If someone were to say something from the Cheesecake Factory tasted better than something I made I would reply, “Well, I guess you like your desserts factory made – extruded from some machine rather than my handcrafted treats.” A tad dramatic I know, but what are friends for.

  • hermz

    deflate like it forgot to take its Prozac? Or did you mean Viagra? heheh… =P

  • Catherine Chandler

    This looks gorgeous! And I doubt the Cheesecake factory tastes better. Their cakes are far too heavy, even for cheesecake (I know…my mom used to make them like every weekend). This looks wonderful.

  • Catherine Chandler

    This looks gorgeous! And I doubt the Cheesecake factory tastes better. Their cakes are far too heavy, even for cheesecake (I know…my mom used to make them like every weekend). This looks wonderful.

  • CreditNurse

    Yum yum
    Your cheesecake looks sooo appetizing!! Cheesecake Factory can’t taste better than yours. Unfortunately, I cannot cook and do not want to try :)

  • sarah

    t: isn’t it funny? thats why brand marketers do so well, huh? manipulating perceptions.

    linden and jennifer: aw, thank you!

    though i have to admit, their dulce de leche cheesecake is pretty damned good.

    mel ch: i {heart} wednesdays at the santa monica farmers’ market :)

    owen: thanks for getting my back ;)

    eve: come over!

    foodie universe: thank you, and all i use is my little compact canon camera!

    hermz: good won.

    catherine: heavy? yes. they’re also too creamy – almost like a very stiff custard. i like something that has a little more texture.

    creditnurse: i can’t cook either, but that’s never stopped me!

  • Jefferey Lin

    You know what gets rid of the grainy texture of ricotta cheesecakes altogether? If you make your own ricotta fresh (don’t even put it in the fridge.. just let it drain and immediately use it), the texture is unbelievably creamy.

    Here’s what I use:
    1/2 gallon (2 quarts) whole milk
    1 cup heavy cream
    1/2 tsp salt
    1/4 cup lemon juice (no less!!)

    Heat milk and heavy cream until at a rolling boil. Make sure you stir it frequently to prevent the milk from scalding, and make sure it’s at a rolling boil before you do anything else. If it’s not at a rolling boil, the ricotta won’t form as well. Add the salt and the lemon juice, and stir for about 10 seconds. Turn off the heat!! Let it sit for 10-15 minutes, and strain through a cheesecloth for about 2 hours.

    The result is an incredibly smooth ricotta that is perfect for cheesecake. I don’t mind the graininess in lasagnas or cannoli, but cheesecake, to me, MUST be smooth. Trust me, you’ll love this…

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