The Main Event

June 6, 2011 § 3 Comments

You don’t have to celebrate Shavuot to appreciate cheesecake, but if you do celebrate, and you are a lover of food and cooking, I am sure there is not a  shortage of cheesecake recipes floating around your universe this week. This one is EASY and will make your house smell intoxicating.

Until I looked up the reasons for eating dairy on Shavuot, I must admit I was a bit in the dark on why it is that we make an effort to eat more blintzes, sambusaks and cheesecakes than is probably wise in a 24-48 hour period. And as the saying goes, “Two Jews, three opinions”, there are several different ideas on why this may be the case. You can read more about those here, but in a nutshell, one theory has to do with animal slaughter being temporarily forbidden while the Jews were receiving the Torah (which is what Shavuot celebrates), therefore leaving us with the option of eating dairy instead.

Also, Jews (and Israelis in particular) like cheese.

Sicilian Ricotta Cheesecake, adapted from allrecipes.com

This cake calls for ricotta which comes in goat and cow-milk form. I am partial to goat, but making an entire cheesecake using goat ricotta was going to cost a pretty penny, so I opted for a mild soft goat cheese my olive man sells at the shuk. I think as long as you use something that is fresh, soft (i.e you can stir ingredients into it, easily) and not salty, you should be fine.

2 pounds ricotta cheese (I used just under a kilo)
2/3 cup white sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
6 eggs
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2  teaspoons orange zest
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon zest
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 Tbs amaretto liqueur
1/8 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C). Set rack in the middle of the oven. Butter and flour a 9 1/2 inch springform pan, and tap out excess flour.
Place the ricotta in a large mixing bowl, and stir it as smooth as possible with a rubber spatula. Stir the sugar and flour together thoroughly into the ricotta. Stir in the eggs 1 at a time. Blend in the vanilla, cinnamon, orange zest, and salt. Pour batter into the prepared pan.
Bake in the center of the oven for about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours, until a light golden color. Make sure the center is fairly firm, and the point of a sharp knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. It will sink slightly as it cools. Cover, and chill till serving time.
Update, June 10th: The cake looked a little plain, presentation-wise, so I decided some pizazz was in order. I melted a little dark chocolate and scooped it into a pastry bag, made a criss-cross pattern across the top, and also colored, rolled out, and cut marzipan into flower shapes. When you roll out marzipan it helps to dust your counter and rolling pin with powdered sugar to prevent sticking.

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