Wisconsin Ricotta Cheesecake with Strawberry Rhubarb Compote

by Sam of SammyGsKitchen

Ever since I was old enough to eat sugar, cheesecake has been my favorite dessert–New York-style cheesecake, Italian-style, pumpkin cheesecake, chocolate cheesecake, and even savory ones such as Blue cheese or smoked-salmon cheesecake. The decadent dessert simply contains everything a dessert should, hits creamy notes and still remains light and fluffy, has a nice crunchy texture from the crust, has citrus components from zest, and aromatic vanilla beans to mellow it all out. My best cheesecake recipe, with Wisconsin Ricotta cheese, is accompanied by a sweet and tart strawberry rhubarb compote, which provides an exciting flavor and great color, making this dessert really stand out.
Being so delicate and delicious, cheesecake is one of those desserts that even has experienced chefs shaking in the knees, but if you do it right, it can be one of the greatest desserts to make. The trick is to treat it as a custard and not as a cake; this means whipping the eggs in the batter to allow the whites to become nice and fluffy, as well as keeping it moist during the baking by cooking it in a water bath. These small simple steps will ensure you have the most fluffy, moist and delicious cheesecake!

This recipe is made with Wisconsin Ricotta cheese, eggs, vanilla bean, fresh citrus and a crunchy graham cracker crust. Using Ricotta cheese makes this cheesecake Italian-style, a bit fluffier, and adds more protein to the dessert – making it just a touch healthier. Including cream cheese allows the cheesecake to retain a creamy texture that cheesecake fanatics, like myself. Top it all off with a killer strawberry rhubarb compote or feel free to make a compote that uses whichever fruits are in season and available near you by simply substituting, and this cheesecake will have everyone begging for more.

Wisconsin Ricotta Cheesecake with Strawberry Rhubarb Compote

by Sam of SammyGsKitchen

Serves 8

8 oz. graham crackers
6 tbsp butter, melted

16 oz.-container Wisconsin whole milk Ricotta, can substitute part-skim Ricotta
8 oz. Wisconsin Cream Cheese, low-fat, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup honey
Zest of half an orange
Zest of half a lemon
4 eggs
Seeds of 1 vanilla bean
1 tbsp constarch

1 pint strawberries
1 lb. rhubarb (4-5 stalks)
3/4 cup sugar
Juice of half a lemon
Juice of half an orange
1 tsp cinnamon

Drain Ricotta overnight in the fridge using cheesecloth. Melt butter on stove and crush the graham crackers with your hands–you can use a food processor but I like the texture you get from having bigger chunks of graham in the crust. Add the butter and mix with your hands until it forms a somewhat crumbly paste. Push into bottom of a greased spring form cheesecake dish to form the crust. Cover and refrigerate while you make filling.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. In a tabletop mixer combine softened Cream Cheese and Ricotta and beat on low 2-3 minutes until whipped in texture. Scrape down the sides.

Add eggs, one at a time, being sure to scrape the sides down after each egg. This is a vital step in the process to ensure the eggs are well combined. Slowly add sugar and honey and beat another minute. Add the vanilla bean and citrus zest. Beat on low 1 minute. Remove crust from fridge and wrap the bottom portion of pan in a few layers of tin foil–this is to prevent any water getting in since we will be cooking it in a water bath.

Pour filling into crust and place cheesecake into a large baking dish. Pour water into baking dish until it is a few centimeters short of the top. Bake for 1 hour. Carefully check on cheesecake. If the top is not a nice light-golden brown keep in the oven for 5-15 minutes more. Refrigerate for a few hours or overnight.

To make the compote: Clean and hull strawberries, cut into quarters. Clean the rhubarb and cut into 1/4-inch pieces. Melt 1 tbsp butter in saucepan over med-high heat and add strawberries, rhubarb, sugar, citrus juice and cinnamon. Cook until the strawberries and rhubarb begin to break down and the sauce begins to turn into thick syrup. Refrigerate until ready to use, the compote can be made a day or so ahead of time.