Baked Ricotta and Hazelnut Cheesecakes

2019-02-27

A breakfast of lemon-ricotta pancakes left us with a surplus of the whey cheese. Ricotta is not a dairy product I usually have in the fridge, so this leftover ingredient allowed me to peruse pages of my cookbooks that are ordinarily unread. As luck would have it, we stumbled on this personal-sized dessert that we enjoyed over many nights.

The recipe comes from the Sweet book by Ottolenghi and Goh. This dessert is a typical example of how I’m able to bake during the week, by breaking the process down into multiple steps, done over several nights.

On Monday evening, I roasted the unpeeled hazelnuts in a toaster oven, then left them to cool. On Tuesday evening, I enlisted the help of my daughter in rubbing the skins off the nuts, and in making the cheesecakes. I chose to make the individual sized cheesecakes in muffin tins, but I did not anticipate the surprisingly dull task of measuring and cutting out little parchment circles for their bases.

Baked Ricotta and Hazelnut Cheesecakes

You need to employ the food processor (for grinding the chocolate and hazelnuts) as well as a stand mixer (for creaming the butter and sugar). Plus, you need to whip egg whites separately. So this recipe is more involved than the average cheesecake, which can often be done in one bowl. I admit that I made a few alterations, due to lack of ingredients: I swapped in some walnuts for hazelnuts, and Greek yogurt and cream for the ricotta,

Baked Ricotta and Hazelnut Cheesecakes

On Wednesday evening, I tried to unmold the cheesecakes from the tin. They stuck quite a bit on the edges, and needed a thin knife to release; lining the bases with parchment is definitely mandatory.

The final step in this recipe was to make the water ganache. This was a completely wild process: making a dry caramel, then pouring water over the hot sugar, letting it seize and then re-melt. Finally, this amber liquid is poured over the chocolate, and a bit of butter whisked in to emulsify.

Baked Ricotta and Hazelnut Cheesecakes

Everyone loved this dessert: served warm, the cake is especially moist. It definitely resembles a nut cake, and not like a creamy cheesecake at all. The ganache is more like a thick sauce and really delivers a chocolate kick. We stored the leftover cakes in the fridge, and microwaved one for about 10 seconds to rewarm. The metal bowl of ganache was similarly easy to soften, directly over a low flame for a minute or so. Highly recommended.

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