Rich, luscious, and decadent. This ricotta cheesecake is baked with homemade ricotta and topped with sweet brandied cherries.
There are countless cheesecake variations. From rich and luscious New York cheesecake to light and fluffy Japanese cheesecake, there are so many options.
American cheesecake is most commonly made with cream cheese and sour cream.
Other options for cheese (and cheese-like products) used in other parts of the world include: mascarpone cheese, quark (product made from fermented milk), and neufchâtel cheese.
However, my favorite variety of cheesecake is the ricotta cheesecake!
Ricotta Cheesecake with Brandied Cherries
This ricotta cheesecake is 100% all ricotta! This cheesecake recipe does not use any cream cheese!
The resulting cheesecake is dense, creamy, and lightly flavored.
Graham crackers make up the crust. As you can see from the image above, this cheesecake is rather short.
I prefer a more equal crust to cheesecake filling ratio. I hope I’m not alone in that preference. However, if you want more filling, simply double that section of the recipe.
What is Ricotta?
Ricotta is a soft cheese made from whey, a by-product of cheese making.
Italian ricotta is commonly made with sheep, buffalo, or goat milk. However, in the United States, ricotta made with cow’s milk is the most popular and most widely available.
How to make homemade ricotta
Homemade ricotta is VERY easy and simple to make. You need:
- whole milk
- heavy cream
- kosher salt
- acid, such as lemon juice or vinegar
The quality of milk and cream is important. In order to achieve the best results, use full-fat milk.
Use fresh milk and cream, not one that has been sitting in the fridge for a few days. The best milk makes the best cheese. The end product can only be as good as the ingredients you choose to use.
No fancy tools are necessary. Simply pour the milk, cream, salt, and acid in a heavy-bottomed pot. No need to to mix or stir the ingredients together.
- Bring mixture to boil and then remove from heat. Let the mix sit undisturbed at room temperature for 15 minutes. At this point, the mixture will have curdled like the first image in photo above.
- Use a slotted spoon to scoop up the formed cheese curds. Gently transfer cheese curds to a strained lined with cheesecloth (or a reusable nut bag).
- Tie up the cheesecloth into a pouch. You can adjust the moisture of ricotta to your liking depending on how tight you tie the pouch.
Ricotta Moisture Content:
Once you’ve scooped up all the curds, tie up the cheesecloth into a pouch. Adjust the moisture content of the ricotta to your liking depending on how tight you tie the pouch.
Looser tie means more moisture, tighter tie means drier cheese.
Tighter tie means drier cheese. (For this ricotta cheesecake, I like to use very dense ricotta. I squeeze out as much moisture as I can.)
The ricotta will very warm at this point. Store it tied up in the fridge to cool down and firm up.
Top the cooled cheesecake with a quick and easy brandied cherries sauce.
For this recipe, I used these Dark Morello Cherries in light syrup from Trader Joe’s. These jarred cherries can be served straight from the bottle, however, I amped it up with a bit of sugar sugar and brandy.
These cherries can also be spooned over ice cream, creme brûlée, panna cotta, cake, or oatmeal!
- 4 cups whole milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 Tablespoon distilled white vinegar , or fresh squeezed lemon or lime juice
- 8 oz graham crackers
- 5 Tablespoons melted butter
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
Ricotta Cheesecake Filling:
- 4 large eggs, separated
- ½ cup + 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
- 11 oz homemade ricotta
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
Brandied Cherry Topping:
- 24.7 oz jar Trader Joe’s Dark Morello Cherries in light syrup , drained to 12 oz liquid
- ⅓ cup brandy
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ½ Tablespoon cornstarch
- ¼ cup water
- Pour whole milk, cream, salt and acid in a heavy-bottomed stainless steel sauce pot. No need to stir or mix ingredients together. Place pot on stove over medium-high heat and wait for mixture to boil.
- Meanwhile, place a strainer lined with cheesecloth over a medium bowl and have a slotted spoon ready.
- Once mixture has come to a boil, remove pot from heat and let it sit undisturbed at room temperature for 15 minutes. At this point the mixture should start to coagulate and thicken.
- Use a slotted spoon to scoop up the formed cheese curds. Gently transfer cheese curds to prepared cheesecloth. Do not simply pour the mixture into the strainer. You do not want to break up the curds that have formed.
- Once you have scooped up all the curds, tie up the cheesecloth into a pouch. You can adjust the moisture of ricotta to your liking depending on how tight you tie the pouch. Looser tie means wetter ricotta, tighter tie means drier cheese. (I prefer dry) At this point the ricotta will be warm. You can use it immediately or store in the fridge to cool down and firm up. (I prefer the latter.)
- Preheat oven to 325° F.
- In a food processor, pulse graham crackers until mixture resembles even coarse sand. Transfer to a medium bowl. Add melted butter, cinnamon and salt. Mix until combined. Press mixture into the bottom of the prepared baking pan to form the crust. Set aside.
- Press mixture into the bottom of the parchment lined 9-inch springform pan to form the crust. Set aside.
- In the bowl of stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat egg yolks and 1/2 cup sugar until pale in color, about 3-5 minutes. Add cooled ricotta and mix until smooth. Fold in vanilla and orange zest.
- In a separate bowl, whip egg whites and remaining 1 tablespoon sugar to soft peaks. Gently fold egg white mixture into ricotta mixture in three additions.
- Pour ricotta filling over crust. Spread into an even layer. Bake for 50 minutes until cheesecake is set and just barely golden brown along the edges.
- Turn off oven and leave oven door slightly ajar. Allow cheesecake to cool in oven for 30 minutes before removing. Remove and let cheesecake cool to room temperature. Once cheesecake is completely cooled, store in the fridge until chilled or ready to serve.
Brandied Cherry Topping:
- Drain cherries. Place cherries, brandy, sugar, and 2 tablespoons water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring often until sugar has dissolved, about 3 minutes.
- In a small bowl, whisk together cornstarch and remaining 2 tablespoons water until mixture is smooth. Add to cherry sauce. Cook until mixture has slightly thickened and has come to a boil for about 30-45 seconds.
- Remove from heat and allow cherry topping to cool. Transfer to an airtight container and keep chilled in the fridge until ready to serve. Serve cherry topping chilled or at room temperature over chilled cheesecake.
- Store leftover ricotta cheesecake in an airtight container for up to 4 days. The cheesecake will dry out over time.
- Brandied cherry topping can be stored in an airtight container for 7-10 days.