Italian-style cheesecakes differ from typical American ones in a few ways. First, lighter, low-fat ricotta is used instead of cream cheese. Ricotta is an Italian fresh cheese made from sheep, cow, goat or buffalo’s milk whey leftover from the production of cheese. Ricotta is low in fat and high in protein. You can even make homemade ricotta cheese easily in your own kitchen.
Italian cheesecakes are also typically made without a crust, saving multiple steps and making this recipe gluten-free. Fresh lemon juice and zest, as well as orange zest, incorporates citrus flavors into the batter. The batter also calls for three different extracts—vanilla, almond, and rum extract. The result is an elegant cheesecake that is full of flavor.
Add your own flair when serving this dessert. The cheesecake can be dusted with additional powdered sugar for a beautiful presentation or garnished with chopped pistachios for a flavor profile similar to an Italian cannoli. Feel free to get creative and make this dish your own by topping with your choice of garnishes like fresh fruit, marmalade or preserves, nuts, or chocolate.
- 1 1/2 pounds ricotta cheese
- 2 cups powdered sugar (plus more for dusting)
- 3 eggs
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 1/2 teaspoon rum extract
- Optional: Chopped pistachios
Gather the ingredients.
Preheat oven to 400 F. Lightly grease and flour a 9-inch round baking pan. (Non-stick baking spray can also be used.)
Combine the ricotta cheese, powdered sugar, and eggs in a large mixing bowl and blend well.
Add the lemon juice, lemon zest, vanilla extract, orange zest, almond extract, and rum extract. Beat by hand until smooth and creamy.
- This recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of lemon zest and 3 tablespoons of lemon juice. This is the equivalent of what can be extracted from 1 medium-sized lemon.
- The recipe also calls for 1 teaspoon orange zest. This is the zest from about 1/2 of an orange. The other half of the orange can be zested over the cheesecake just before serving for garnish if desired.
- If you like to add fresh zest to your recipes, invest in a microplane grater for the best results.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until golden brown and set, about 40 minutes.
Place on a wire rack and cool completely. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Before serving, dust with additional powdered sugar, if desired.
The cheesecake can also be garnished with your favorite nuts or fruit if desired. For an Italian cannoli-like flavor, try chopped pistachios and additional orange zest.
Enjoy as a sweet treat after your favorite Italian meal!