Sour Cherry Mascarpone Cheesecake Recipe

Cheesecake for Passover
Daniela Solomon
  • Total: 2 hrs 55 mins
  • Prep: 15 mins
  • Cook: 2 hrs 40 mins
  • Yield: 1 cheesecake (8 to 10 servings)

This Italian-style cheesecake is wonderfully light and creamy. Slightly tart with lemon zest and a cup of mascarpone cheese, this dessert has a very luscious texture. A quick and easy sour cherry sauce adds just the right amount of sweetness. 


  • For the Crust:
  • 2 packs of graham crackers (or 2 cups vanilla wafers)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (melted and slightly cooled)
  • For the Filling:
  • 3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese (room temperature)
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest (about 1 small lemon)
  • 4 large eggs (room temperature)
  • 1 cup mascarpone cheese (room temperature)
  • For the Cherries:
  • 2/3 cup of sugar
  • 2 pints sour cherries (pitted and washed)
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • Optional: 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Steps to Make It

Make the Cheesecake

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter the inside of a 9-inch springform pan, and wrap the bottom of the pan and up the sides of the pan with a double layer of aluminum foil (to help keep water out of your cake).

  3. In a food processor, add the graham crackers, sugar, and salt. Pulse the processor until you have small crumb but not overly fine.

  4. Add the sugar crumb mixture to a medium bowl.

  5. Add the melted butter and stir well to moisten all of the crumbs.

  6. Pour the crumb mixture into the prepared pan and use your fingers to press gently into an even layer on the bottom and halfway up the sides of the pan.

  7. Freeze the crust for 10 minutes while the oven heats.

  8. Place the pan (on a baking sheet) into the oven and bake until the crust is lightly browned and fragrant, about 10 minutes.

  9. Set the pan aside and turn the oven down to 325 F.

  10. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese until it is light and very smooth, about 4 minutes.

  11. Add the sugar and salt. Beat for 3 more minutes.

  12. Add the vanilla extract and lemon zest. Combine.

  13. Add in the eggs, one at a time, and beat for a full minute after each egg.

  14. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the mascarpone and mix on a low speed until combined.

  15. Pour cheesecake batter into prepared crust and smooth top. 

  16. Place the springform pan with crust into a large ovenproof casserole dish, deep cookie sheet, or roasting pan. and place on the center rack of the oven. Fill the casserole dish with enough hot tap water to come halfway up the sides of the springform pan.

  17. Close the oven door and bake the cheesecake until it is very lightly golden on top and the filling is set, but still jiggles in the center, about 90 minutes.

  18. Turn off the oven and prop the door open slightly. Let the cheesecake cool for one hour in its water bath.

  19. After an hour, gently remove the roasting pan from the oven and lift the springform pan from the water. Carefully remove the foil from the bottom of the pan and set the pan on a cooling rack.

  20. Run a knife around the top edge of the cheesecake to release it from the pan. Let the cheesecake cool to room temperature, then cover the top with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours before slicing. Overnight is best.

  21. Tip

    • To get really clean slices, run your knife under hot water before each cut and wipe with a dry kitchen towel.

Make the Cherry Topping

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. While the cheesecake is cooling, make the cherry topping.

  3. Add the sugar and about 2/3 cup cold water to a small heavy-bottomed sauce pot. Bring to a simmer and cook until the sugar has completely dissolved and the syrup has thickened, 6 to 7 minutes.

  4. Add the cherries and balsamic vinegar to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until the cherries soften and release their juices, 2 to 3 more minutes.

  5. Use a slotted spoon or strainer to transfer just the cherries to a medium bowl.

  6. Continue cooking the syrup in the pan until the sauce reduces by half, about 10 minutes.

  7. Remove the pan from the heat. 

  8. Recombine the cherries and syrup. Cool slightly before serving. Stir in the black pepper, if using.  Serve warm or cold over cheesecake or ice cream.