Baked cheesecake is one of my all-time favorite desserts. The ricotta adds lightness, and the dates add a subtle sweetness. – Caroline Griffiths
1 almond pastry crust
3 1⁄2 ounces medjool dates, pitted and roughly chopped
1⁄4 cup boiling water
12 1⁄2 ounces fresh firm ricotta
12 1⁄2 ounces cream cheese, softened
3 eggs, separated
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest, plus extra shredded zest to serve
1⁄4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
1 1⁄2 tablespoons cornflour (cornstarch)
Pinch of salt
Figs, fresh berries or other fruits in season, for decorating
Rice malt syrup, for drizzling (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 320°F (convection). Grease an 8-inch springform cake tin and line the base with non-stick baking paper.
- Press the almond pastry crust firmly into the base of the prepared tin and bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until just starting to brown around the edges. Set aside to cool and reduce the oven temperature to 265°F (convection).
- Put the dates in a small heatproof bowl and add the boiling water. Set aside for 5 to 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 to 35 minutes or until lightly browned and the center 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, berries or fruits of your choice, and drizzle with rice malt syrup if you like.
- Store the cheesecake in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days.