Red Velvet Swirl Cheesecake


At my last job, I worked with this super nice Italian woman.  She brought in some fantastic lasagna - it was amazing! I am partial to Italian food as it is, so trying authentic goodies is always a treat. When we got to talking about my baking obsession, she brought up cheesecake and said that the "real" way to make it called for ricotta cheese.

I'm no stranger to red velvet.  Though I've yet to make the cake (*gasp*), I have had my fun with Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownies that were a massively delicious success. I've also made a variety of cheesecake with cottage cheese a few times.

There are 3 main types of cheesecake I am familiar with: cream cheese, of course, which most people know; ricotta; and cottage cheese, which is one I see less frequently.  Of course, I will have to get all of these varieties under my baking belt at some point, so let's knock out 2 of 3 with ricotta cheesecake.

I used a pre-made pie crust for this recipe.  Well, I actually made a double batch and used both pre-made and homemade crusts.  For this reason I have included the instructions for the pie crust with the recipe.

This went very much like my cottage cheesecake recipe, with a swap of the ricotta cheese and I also changed to evaporated milk.  I wanted the thickness of the milk for this cake - since I have gotten some more pie baking experience in I have noticed that recipes like key lime pie called for evaporated milk and it really seems to help create density in the filling. In a large mixing bowl I beat the ricotta cheese, milk, eggs, flour, lemon juice, vanilla, sugar and salt until the mixture was liquid and of the same consistency throughout.


Next, I scooped out about 1/4 cup of the filling and put it in another bowl.  I mixed in cocoa powder, a little bit of brown sugar (because red food coloring is known for it's powerful ability to affect the flavor of a cake) and some red food coloring. Once I got the right color, I spooned it over the pie and used a knife to gently swirl the filling. I did not want to mix them so much as to create a pink color, but enough to get a pretty decoration.  I was careful here not to push the knife too far into the filling and dig into the crust.

As you can see, this recipe made enough for 2 pies (while I did make a double batch - I actually had a third pan out for the other half.  This is the original recipe amount split in two).  Pre-bought pan crusts come in different sizes, so be sure to get a 9-inch one if you want it all in one pan.


Wow, that was easy.  I then baked the pies


Cheesecake can go so many ways.  We all have seen cheesecakes with fruit toppings or swirls, chocolate accents, and even different crusts (or no crust!).  Of course, go to The Cheesecake Factory and you really get overwhelmed by the options.  This cake was quite superb, with the ricotta really having more of that authentic cheesecake taste that I have had many times before.  I am certainly not knocking the cottage cheese variety, especially since I love a healthier option, but the ricotta, perhaps with the help of evaporated milk, made a dense pie that felt like a cheesecake.  The chocolate swirl gave the right amount of chocolate taste, and I gotta say made for a beautiful dessert.

Cottage Cheesecake Recipe

Ingredients:

For the crust:
1/4 cup melted butter
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

For the filling:
2 cups ricotta cheese
1/2 cup evaporated milk
2 eggs
3 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons cocoa powder
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon red gel food coloring

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Put melted butter in a pie dish and stir in graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar and cinnamon. Press firmly into pie dish. In a blender, combine ricotta cheese, milk, eggs, flour, lemon juice, vanilla, sugar and salt and blend until smooth. Separate 1/4 cup of the filling into another bowl, then mix in the cocoa powder, brown sugar, and food coloring.  Add more food coloring if necessary until you reached the desired brightness.  Pour the finished mixture into the prepared crust. Bake for 1 hour, or until filling is firm. Allow to cool completely and store refrigerated.

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