Lemon Ricotta Cheesecake with Pomegranate Rubies

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My first recipe on this blog had to be a cheesecake. I’m hopelessly addicted to cheesecake at the moment, and I weep inside every time I think of the 27 years that I wasted not realising that cheesecake and I were meant to be together. I’ve been looking forward to trying this particular recipe, as in deference to my fast approaching big ‘3-0’, I am trying to be ever so slightly more healthy in my food choices. And as this cheesecake has 2 parts ricotta to one part cream cheese, I feel like this cheesecake is the equivalent of going for a short jog. Magic.

Lemon Ricotta Cheesecake with Pomegranate Rubies

– adapted from Woolworths TASTE magazine
 
200g tennis biscuits
100g butter, melted
250g medium fat cream cheese
500g ricotta
4 large eggs
110g castor sugar
juice and zest of 3 normal (or 4 small) lemons
pomegranate rubies, to garnish
serves 10-12 people, depending how piggy they are
 

Preheat the oven to 160°C. Take the cream cheese out of the fridge. Process or crush the tennis biscuits until they are about the texture of coarse breadcrumbs, mix with the melted butter (YUM) and press into the base of a greased 23cm springform tin. I tend to spray the whole inside of the springform tin with a non-stick baking spray like Spray and Cook. Overkill? Maybe. But my cakes always come out the tin easily. Let the biscuit base set in the fridge while you make the cheesecake filling. Using an electric beater, beat the slightly softened cream cheese for 3 minutes, then add the ricotta and beat for another 3 minutes. The cheeses should be nicely amalgamated. Beat in the eggs, one at at time, and don’t forget to scrape down the sides of the bowl in between. Mix in the castor sugar, lemon juice and zest and pour onto the set biscuit base. 

Once you’ve poured in the cheesecake mixture, cover the underside and sides of the tin with heavy duty foil, preferably 2 layers. If you only have light foil, use at least 3 layers, and be generous. The individual foil sheets need to stretch from the top of the tin, down the side, under the base, and up the other side without breaks – you don’t want any water sneaking into your cheesecake. Place the foil-protected tin into a roasting dish, and fill the roasting dish with hot water, up to about halfway. The water protects the cheesecake from drying out too much in the oven, which gives it the creamy texture we know and adore. Carefully place the dish in the oven, and bake for 1 hour. If the middle of the cheesecake has a wobble to it when you (carefully) take the dish out the oven, put it back in for another 5-10min, just to be safe. Then remove the whole contraption from the oven, lift the springform tin from the roasting dish, and remove the foil – and watch out for any hot water that might coming rushing out the outermost layer! Put the tin on a wire rack to cool, and then pop it in the fridge overnight.

I like to dress this cheesecake with pomegranate rubies – I love the sound of the word ‘rubies’ and I like the texture contrast that their crunch gives to the cheesecake. You can buy ready-extracted pomegranate rubies, but they aren’t cheap – I like to buy a fresh pomegranate and remove the rubies myself. Be warned though: pomegranate rubies are very red, and take flight easily. If you don’t watch your step, it will look like someone was shot repeatedly on your kitchen floor. If this sounds too hazardous, you can use fresh raspberries instead. Either way, wait until you are ready to serve your masterpiece before adding the rubies or berries, so the colour doesn’t bleed into the cheesecake.
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