Jewish and Siciliano New York
This cheesecake is trying to reproduce one made by an old college friend, Kenny
Kleinrock’s mother. She approached the task as a scientific experiment, trying many variations ’till she found the perfect, the archetypal, the uber-cheesecake. She found that the definitive cheesecake had to have both lemon and orange flavor in it, to cut the extreme richness.
New York Cheesecakes
To make the crust
1 cup. (4 oz) graham cracker crumbs (or 4 whole crackers and food-processed)
1 Tbs. sugar
5 Tbs. unsalted butter melted, plus 1 Tbs. for buttering pan
Combine above and press into bottom of 9 inch springform pan. Bake at 325 f. to 10 minutes. Cool on wire rack while making filling
To make the filling
2 ½ lbs. cream cheese at room temperature
1/8 tsp. salt
1 ½ cups (10 ½ oz) sugar
1/3 cup (2 ½ oz) sour cream
2 tsp. lemon juice
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 egg yolks plus 6 eggs
1 tsp. lemon zest and 1 tsp. orange zest, grated.
Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese, scrape, beat in salt and sugar, scrape. Add sour cream lemon juice, vanilla, and zest. Beat and scrape.
Add eggs one at a time. Beat and scrape.
Bake on rimmed cookie sheet. Bake at 500 F. for 10 minutes. Turn down oven to 200 F. and bake approx 1 ½ hours (instant read thermometer 150 F) Run paring knife around cake. Cool 2 ½ to 3 hours. Wrap in pan and cool at least 3 hours, or overnight
New York and Palermo
When I was a child in New York, you could get Sicilian cheesecake is every Italian bakery. A few years ago, Suzie and I spent a month traveling around Sicily and I was on a mission to find this old-fashioned dessert. Everywhere, I ordered Cassata alla Siciliana, and all’antica. Usually I got a ricotta dessert held together with lime-green jello. Sometimes I got spongecake layered with cannolli cream. Never did I get the old fashioned cheesecake of my childhood. The closest was a Cassata di Ricotta in Palermo, which was a pie with the ricotta and candied fruit filling
Sicilian Ricotta Cheesecake
3 lbs whole milk ricotta cheese, drained
2 cups sugar
8 egg yolks
1/2 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 egg whites, beaten till soft peaks form
1/2 cup heavy cream, whipped
1/2-1 tablespoon grated fresh lemon zest
dried pineapple, golden raisins, candied orange rind, etc.)
1 double recipe pie crust
Line a 12″ springform pan with the pie crust. In an electric mixer, beat the ricotta, sugar, flour, egg yolks, lemon zest, cinnamon and vanilla. Mix in the candied fruits. Remove from mixer and fold in whipped egg whites and cream. Pour into crust-lined springform pan. Bake at 425 F. for 10 minutes. Turn the oven down to 350 F. and bake for one hour. Turn off oven and don’t open it. Allow to cool in oven for three hours. Then refrigerate.