Ricotta Cheesecake with Blueberry Compote
Chef James Schenk
Blueberries make a summery topping for cheesecake, a favorite dessert all year round. Chef James Schenk turns the berries into a compote for a fruity flavor and color contrast to the creamy but light ricotta cheesecake. Ground gingersnaps form the crust. You can substitute packaged ricotta cheese for fresh if time and labor are tight.
4 cups blueberries
½ cup agave nectar
1 large cinnamon stick
1½ gal. buttermilk
½ gal. heavy cream
2 cups ground ginger cookies
½ cup unsalted butter, melted
4 lb. fresh ricotta cheese
2½ cups granulated sugar
4 tsp. freshly grated lemon zest (Meyer lemons preferred)
1 tsp. kosher salt
4 tsp. vanilla extract
8 large eggs
3 cups mascarpone cheese
- For blueberry compote, in medium saucepan over medium heat, bring all ingredients to a simmer. Cook until thickened, about 15 minutes. Remove cinnamon stick; let cool. Store in refrigerator until ready to use.
- For fresh ricotta, in medium nonreactive stockpot, whisk buttermilk and cream together. Attach a candy/deep-fry thermometer to the side. Heat over medium heat without stirring, until mixture reaches 190 to 200 F. Remove from heat and let sit for 30 minutes.
- Line a large, fine-mesh strainer or colander with a few layers of cheesecloth and place over large bowl to catch the whey. Using a slotted spoon, carefully transfer the ricotta mixture from stockpot to strainer. With a spatula, gently move the cheese as needed to remove any excess liquid. Fold and tie the cheesecloth. Hang the cheese in the cloth to drain for at least 30 minutes.
- For cheesecake, preheat oven to 350 F. Combine gingersnap crumbs and butter in small bowl. Divide the mixture between bottoms of two 9-inch springform pans; press to form a crust. Bake 10 minutes. Remove and let cool in pan.
- In extra-large mixing bowl, stir drained ricotta, sugar, lemon zest and salt. In a medium bowl, lightly beat eggs and vanilla; gradually add egg mixture to ricotta mixture. Stir in mascarpone until blended.
- Divide the batter between the two pans. Bake in 350 F oven in water baths, filling with water to come about halfway up the pans, until tops are golden brown and cheesecakes are cooked through, 1¼ to 1 ½ hours.
- Carefully remove pans from the oven. If necessary, remove some of the water from the water bath before moving. Let cool in water about 15 minutes. Then carefully transfer pans to cooling racks and cool completely. Refrigerate until cold.
- Serve slices of the cheesecake with a generous tablespoon of blueberry compote spooned over top.
Photo courtesy of California Milk Advisory Board