A fusion of traditional and Italian style cheesecake leaves this one bursting with bright flavour in every extra smooth and creamy bite. The “icing” on this cake? A crisp, caramelized, brûlée topping that will have everyone begging you for seconds (and the recipe!).
We’re finally deep into fall, and there is no place I would rather be right now then home. We just got back from Florida, and while the sun and water is great, fall is my favourite time of year to be here in Canada. It’s not too hot, or too cold, and it’s not rainy like the spring. I still love to be outside right now, but when I can’t be, you’ll find me in the kitchen.
It’s the kick off to holiday baking season, from Thanksgiving straight through Christmas my oven and cooktop gets a non-stop workout. Today I’m sharing something that’s been in the works since Bo and I got married almost 9 years ago. On our honeymoon I had a ricotta cheesecake with a brûlée topping on it that became a marker to me for just how good a cheesecake could be. I’ve finally got it just right, and with the crispness in the air, the fireplace roaring, and all of us around the table after an afternoon of hockey, there is nothing I would rather dig into after dinner.
The key to this is the melding of styles. New York cheesecakes are dense and heavy, loaded up with cream cheese, they carry the flavour you come to expect. Traditional ricotta cheesecakes are a bit softer in flavour, but I struggle to keep them from being a bit too dry. Joining the two together though – I suddenly had the flavour and texture that I was going for, but just a *bit* too firm still. It’s not supposed to be runny, but your fork should just glide through every bite – the key was adding my Gay Lea sour cream. Suddenly my cheesecake had the perfect silky texture to match it’s flavour. The little bit of added tang really helped to brighten up the bit of lemon juice and zest that I added, without being overpowering.
To crust, or not to crust? That’s completely up to you. This style cheesecake can work just fine without (just make sure to line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper). I love a nice graham cracker crust though. When the cheesecake comes out of the oven, I usually press some graham cracker crumbs into the side of the cake too, it hides any little imperfections and is a quick trick to make the cheesecake look more polished.
The brûlée topping is the easy part, just sprinkle on some white sugar after your cheesecake is completely cooled, and use a kitchen torch to melt it quickly. This is an absolute show stopper on any cheesecake, and one that no one sees coming (it really makes it look like you know what you’re doing in the kitchen). Another bonus – if you’re unlucky enough to have your cheesecake crack while it’s cooling (it happens to the best of us, trust me), this does an amazing job of covering it up! Don’t worry if you don’t have a brûlée torch either – just preheat your broiler as high as it will go, and pop the cheesecake under it as close to the top as you can. Watch it carefully though, it goes from perfect to burnt really fast under the broiler!
My favourite way to serve any cheesecake is on a table surrounded by every topping imaginable. Fresh berries, a berry compote, chocolate and caramel sauces, dulche de luche. Anything you can think of, that way everyone can top their slices as they like (something the kids LOVE doing!).
- 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
- 1/3 cup white sugar
- 6 tbsp butter, melted
- 3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
- 1 (16 ounce) container extra smooth ricotta cheese
- 1 1/2 cups white sugar
- 4 eggs
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 tbsp cornstarch
- 3 tbsp flour
- 1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- Preheat your oven to 375ºF. Grease the bottom and sides of a springform pan. Place a circle of parchment paper onto the bottom of the pan, then grease on top of it too.
- Mix together the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter with a fork.
- Press the mixture into an even layer in the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for 7 minutes, then let cool before filling with the cheesecake.
- Preheat your oven to 325ºF with a rack in the middle position.
- Beat together the cream cheese and ricotta cheese until fluffy and smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
- Add the sugar, beat. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating to combine after each one.
- Add the lemon juice, lemon zest, vanilla, cornstarch, flour, and melted butter. Mix to combine.
- Add the sour cream at the very end and stir or mix very gently to just combine it all.
- Pour the mixture into your prepared pan on top of the crust if using. Use an offset spatula to smooth out the top.
- Put the cheesecake on the middle rack in your oven, and place a oven safe dish with about an inch of hot water in it on a rack under the cheesecake to help keep the oven moist. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Turn the oven off, and leave the cheesecake in the oven for an additional 2 hours - do not open the door. After that, move your cheesecake to the counter to completely cool, then to the fridge overnight.
- Once your cheese has finished cooling, sprinkle an even layer of white sugar over the top of the cheesecake. Use a kitchen torch to melt the sugar until it is golden brown all over. See notes for other ways to brûlée too!
- Chill the cheesecake in the fridge until ready to serve - it's best made a day in advance.
How to get that brûlée topping:
Don't worry if you don't have a kitchen torch. You can do the same thing by turning your broiler on as high as it will go, and putting your over rack as high as you can without having the cake pan touch the elements. Just watch very carefully, it won't take long to caramelize the sugar, and it will go from perfect to burnt really quickly!
Disclosure: I am part of the PTPA Brand Ambassador Program with Gay Lea and I received Compensation as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.