The ricotta cheese in this baked cheesecake adds lightness and the dates add a subtle sweetness.
- 1 quantity almond pastry crust (see below)
- 100 g (3½ oz) fresh (medjool) dates, pitted and roughly chopped
- 350 g (12½ oz) fresh firm ricotta cheese
- 350 g (12½ oz) cream cheese, softened
- 3 eggs, separated
- 1 tbsp finely grated lemon zest, plus extra shredded zest to serve
- 60 ml (2 fl oz/¼ cup) freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
- 1½ tbsp cornflour (cornstarch)
- pinch of salt
- figs, fresh berries or other fruits in season, for decorating
- rice malt syrup, to drizzle (optional)
Almond pastry crust
- 120 g (4½ oz/1 cup) almond meal
- 1 tbsp coconut flour
- 30 g (1 oz) virgin coconut oil, chilled and roughly chopped
- 1 egg white
- 3–4 drops liquid stevia (optional)
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Cooling time: 4 hours or overnight
For the almond pastry crust, preheat the oven to 160°C/320°F (fan-forced). Whiz the almond meal, coconut flour and solid coconut oil in a food processor until the coconut oil is mixed evenly throughout the mixture – you will still see small flecks of the solid coconut oil. Add the egg white and stevia (if using) and pulse until the mixture forms coarse crumbs. It should cling together when pressed between your fingertips.
Grease a 20 cm (8 in) springform cake tin and line the base with non-stick baking paper.
Make the almond pastry mixture. Press firmly into the base of the prepared tin and bake for 10–12 minutes or until just starting to brown around the edges. Set aside to cool and reduce the oven temperature to 130°C/265°F (fan-forced).
Put the dates in a small heatproof bowl and add 60 ml (2 fl oz/¼ cup) boiling water. Set aside for 5–10 minutes to cool, stirring occasionally. Whiz the soaked dates, including their soaking water, in a food processor until smooth. Add the ricotta, cream cheese, egg yolks, lemon zest and juice, and vanilla seeds and process until smooth. Sprinkle over the cornflour and whiz again until combined. Spoon the mixture into a large bowl. Beat the egg whites and salt with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Gently fold into the cheese mixture in two batches.
Pour the mixture over the prepared base and bake for 30–35 minutes or until lightly browned and the centre is just set – it should wobble slightly. Turn off the oven and leave to cool with the door closed for 1 hour. Chill in the refrigerator for 3 hours or overnight. Remove from the tin. Just before serving, top the cheesecake with the figs or fruits of your choice, and drizzle with rice malt syrup if you like.
This cheesecake will keep for 2–3 days, covered, in the refrigerator.
This recipe is from Incredible Bakes (Smith Street Books). Photography by Chris Middleton.