December 24, 2010

Cannoli Cheesecake

This is a recipe I recently found on another site, I forget which one, sorry. But Christmas always means cannoli to me. I lived on the east coast and they were easy to get. I moved to the west coast and had to go to San Francisco to get them. They were good but not quite the same. And now Im in the Pacific Northwest and dont have a clue yet where to find them.

And so I used to order from Ferraras bakery in NYC , online when I couldnt get any. That is until now. I tasted this cheesecake batter and I am in love! Tomorrow for Christmas we will cut into it but honestly, I wanted to take a spoon to the batter and eat a bowl of it! Its THAT GOOD.

And so heres the recipe......but of course I had to change some things and this reflects the changes. They were minor but added much more flavor.


2 1/2c  vanilla wafers, finely crushed
3 Tbs. granulated sugar
8 Tbs. unsalted butter(one stick), melted
3 8-oz. packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup ricotta
2 Tbs. all-purpose flour
Table salt
1-1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup mini chocolate chips (I used lg. 60% dark chocolate chips and chopped them fine)
1Tb. finely grated orange zest
1 tb. finely chopped candied orange peel
1 Tbs. pure vanilla extract (*see note and recipe below)
4 large eggs, at room temperature
Confectioners' sugar, for garnish

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 375°F.

In a medium bowl, stir together the vanilla wafer crumbs and 3 Tbs. granulated sugar. Mix in the melted butter until the crumbs are evenly moist and clump together slightly. Transfer the mixture to a 9-inch spring-form pan and press evenly onto the bottom and about 2 inches up the sides of the pan (to press, use plastic wrap or a flat-bottom measuring cup). Bake until the crust is fragrant and slightly darkened, 9 to 12 minutes. Let the pan cool on a rack. Lower the oven temperature to 300°F.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese, ricotta, flour, and a pinch of table salt on medium speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl and the paddle frequently, until very smooth and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Make sure the cheese has no lumps. Add the 1-1/4 cups granulated sugar and continue beating until well blended and smooth.

Add the chocolate chips, orange zest, candied orange peel and vanilla, and beat until blended, about 30 seconds. Add the eggs one at a time, beating just until blended. (Don’t overbeat once the eggs have been added or the cheesecake will puff too much and crack as it cools.) Pour the filling into the cooled crust and smooth the top.

Bake at 300°F until the center jiggles like Jell-O when nudged, 55 to 65 minutes. The cake will be slightly puffed around the edges, and the center will still look moist. Set on a rack and cool completely. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 8 hours and up to 3 days. The cake can also be frozen at this point for up to 1 month (see make-ahead tip, below).

Unclasp and remove the side of the springform pan and run a long, thin metal spatula under the bottom crust. Carefully slide the cake onto a flat serving plate.
Garnish with confectioners' sugar sifted over the cake and serve immediately. To cut, run a thin knife under hot water, wipe it dry, and cut the cake into slices, heating and wiping the knife after every slice.

Make Ahead Tips
To freeze, put the unmolded, cooled cake on a rimmed baking sheet in the freezer, uncovered, until the top is cold and firm; then wrap it in two layers of plastic and one layer of foil. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.

*NOTE: I often make and use my own homemade extracts. The one I used in this one is reminiscent of the Fiori Di Sicilia Flavoring.

In a small canning jar I put several whole vanilla beans. I break them to fit the jar. Then I cover with Orange brandy. I found Grand Marnier is delicious but very expensive for this sort of thing. And so I looked for a substitute. I found a brandy with added orange liqueur sold at the local liqueur store. Its excellent for baking and cooking and much cheaper. Save the good stuff for when it counts. Grand Marnier is made with cognac. Cognac is well aged brandy. And so this cheaper alternative gives the same flavor. Let sit a few weeks. Then use for all your baking when you want a Vanilla/orange type flavor.

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