Sunday, January 31, 2010
One of Brian's absolute favorite desserts was his great aunt's lemon cake. Sadly, when she passed away, the recipe went away as well. No one has been able to replicate the cake, but everyone still tries. His absolute favorite desserts have to do with lemon flavoring, so when I saw that the Bake at 350's Flavor of the Month this month had to do with booze, it finally hit me. I had to use Limoncello which is a lemon flavored liqueur.
Once the cheesecake had cooled, I sliced a square for me to try but Brian snuck in and got the first bite. Before I turned around, my square had almost completely disappeared. He said that it was probably the best thing I've ever made and it was his great aunt's cake in cheesecake form.
I bought my own Limoncello, but I've included the recipe for it in case you can't find any in your area. It is quite pricey, but it will last in the refrigerator.
Limoncello Cheesecake Squares
Nonstick cooking spray
8 ounces purchased biscotti
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted
3 tablespoons grated lemon zest
1 (12-ounce) container fresh whole milk ricotta, drained, at room temperature
2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar1/2 cup limoncello liqueur*, store bought or homemade, recipe follows
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 large eggs, at room temperature
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray the bottom of a 9 by 9 by 2-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.
Finely grind the biscotti in a food processor. Add the melted butter and 1 tablespoon of lemon zest, and process until the crumbs are moistened. Press the crumb mixture over the bottom (not the sides) of the prepared pan. Bake until the crust is golden, about 15 minutes. Cool the crust completely on a cooling rack.
Blend the ricotta in a clean food processor until smooth. Add the cream cheese and sugar and blend well, stopping the machine occasionally and scraping down the sides of the work bowl. Blend in the limoncello, vanilla, and remaining 2 tablespoons of lemon zest. Add the eggs one at a time, and pulse just until blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
Pour the cheese mixture over the crust in the pan. Place the baking pan in a large roasting pan. Pour enough hot water into the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the baking pan. Bake until the cheesecake is golden and the center of the cake moves slightly when the pan is gently shaken, about 1 hour (the cake will become firm when it is cold).
Transfer the cake to a rack; cool 1 hour. Refrigerate until the cheesecake is cold, at least 8 hours and up to 2 days. Cut the cake into squares and serve.
*Limoncello liqueur can be found at most liquor stores and in the liquor department of some specialty markets. If limoncello liqueur is unavailable at stores near you, use the following recipe to make your own limoncello liqueur.
1 (750-ml) bottle vodka
3 1/2 cups water
2 1/2 cups sugar
Using a vegetable peeler, remove the peel from the lemons in long strips (reserve the lemons for another use). Using a small sharp knife, trim away the white pith from the lemon peels; discard the pith. Place the lemon peels in a 2-quart pitcher. Pour the vodka over the peels and cover with plastic wrap. Steep the lemon peels in the vodka for 4 days at room temperature.
Stir the water and sugar in a large saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Cool completely. Pour the sugar syrup over the vodka mixture. Cover and let stand at room temperature overnight.
Strain the limoncello through a mesh strainer. Discard the peels. Transfer the limoncello to bottles. Seal the bottles and refrigerate until cold, at least 4 hours and up to 1 month.
Makes: 7 cups
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Inactive Prep Time: 4 days and 4 hours
Be sure and check out the other entries of the Flavor of the Month!