08 May 2012

Lemon Amaretti Cheesecake

Mascarpone; An Italian,  fresh, triple crème cheese of cows milk from the Lombardy region.
Amaretti;  also from the Lombardy region of Italy and are made mainly from apricot kernels, sugar and egg whites. 
Choosing ingredients from the same region usually makes for great recipes, why?
{ perche e cosi }
Translation; because it’s like that

I am a big fan of Mascarpone cheese!  Most famous for its place in Tiramisu, mascarpone is so much more than just for dessert!  We use it in place of heavy cream in soups for a rich and silky smoothness, or in place of cream cheese as it doesn’t have that sticky feel cream cheese possesses.  I throw a spoonful into my macaroni and cheese instead of creating a béchamel and use it in vegetable gratins and risotto.

I discovered another Italian favorite of mine is Amaretti cookies.  I am charmed by their oh-so-european wrappers and appearance.  I love the jolt of almond flavor and the dry, crusty quality.  Amaretti are also from the Lombardy region of Italy and are made mainly from apricot kernels, sugar and egg whites.  They come packaged occasionally as a “ball” of two separate cookies.  I also purchase them in bags.

I always keep a bag on hand for garnishing puddings or cooked fruits, a tiny treat with a late day espresso, or even topping squash/pumpkin soups.  They seem to keep forever when tightly sealed and if perhaps they get stale…a dunk in coffee or crushed into a crust perks them right back up!

My favorite dessert using these Italian specialties is found under my Sicilian Recipe Booklet!  I thought I’d give you a few photos to go along with it and create an outstanding cheesecake to share with friends today!

6 ounces Amaretti Cookies, crushed into crumbs
4 Tablespoons Butter, melted

Combine in a small dish and press into a 9 inch springform pan.

Bake crust in a 350 degree, preheated oven for 12 minutes.

16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
16 ounces Mascarpone cheese, room temperature
1 ¼ cups sugar
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
Zest of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 large eggs

In a large mixing bowl, beat cheeses and sugar until smooth.  Add lemon juice, zest and vanilla, stir until combined.  With your mixer on low, add eggs one at a time, waiting until each is incorporated before adding the next.

Pour filling into baked crust and bake 65 minutes.  Remove from oven and allow to cool an hour.  Refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving.   

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