How to Make Amaretto Cheesecake
With apologies to the late Marilyn Monroe, the fact is that in Italy almonds are a girl’s best friend. The boys are equally fond of the taste, too. In fact, not only are the natives nuts about them but their enthusiasm has rubbed off on the thousands of visitors who can regularly be seen filing onto flights home with their gift bags stuffed with tins of amaretti biscuits and bottles of Disaronno Originale liqueur.
Of course, there are only so many crunchy biscuits and glasses of digestif that body and mind can take, but that doesn’t mean the almond obsession has to be curbed; merely that a little imagination is in order to maintain the daily fix. So what about infusing a little nuttiness into a cheesecake?
Let’s start with a twist on that most popular of images of this dessert: a biscuit base topped with cream cheese and some summer berries. The starring role here could be taken by mascarpone, but an even better result can be achieved by using ricotta simply because it offers a lighter touch and, therefore, prevents diners finding their dessert is a little too heavy on the stomach having already enjoyed a number of courses.
Crumb-like ConsistencyFor the base, you will need 300 grams of plain flour, 100 grams of unsalted butter, cut into cubes and at room temperature, 150 grams of cane sugar, one egg, and a pinch of salt. Pour all the ingredients into a mixing bowl and proceed to work them together, using your fingers to produce a crumb-like consistency. Butter the base and sides of a shallow baking tray and cover the bottom with half the crumb mix. For the cheese filling, mix together 300 grams of ricotta with 50 grams of icing sugar, one egg, a little lemon zest, and 200 grams of amaretti biscuits broken up using a tea towel and a rolling pin (don’t be too enthusiastic with the rolling pin – you want crumbs, not powder.
Berries and a Little Icing SugarWhen the ricotta mix is thoroughly amalgamated, smooth it over the crumb base. Now for the twist: take the other half of the crumb mix and pour it evenly over the ricotta so it loosely resembles a sandwich cake. Place in a preheated oven (190 deg C/375 deg F/gas mark 5) and bake for around 30 minutes. Allow the cake to cool before decorating with berries and a little icing sugar.
A more straightforward take on a cheesecake involves mixing the ricotta and flour together with the remaining ingredients to form a batter. You will need 200 grams each of plain flour, amaretti-biscuit crumbs, ricotta, and cane sugar, along with 50 grams of unsalted butter, two eggs and a pinch of salt.
Amalgamate all the ingredients thoroughly in a bowl, then pour into a shallow baking tin pre-greased with a little more butter. Bake in a preheated oven at the same temperature as the previous cake, again for around half an hour, or until it is golden brown and firm to the touch in the middle. When the cake has cooled, cover it in a blanket of icing sugar and serve in wedges, perhaps accompanied by a scoop of good ice cream.
Both of these cheesecakes can be enjoyed either as a mid-afternoon indulgence along with an espresso, or as an evening pudding in the company of a well chosen dessert wine. The satisfied looks on the faces of your fellow diners will be worth more than all the diamonds in the world, whatever Ms Monroe’s thoughts on the matter.