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Little Lemony Ricotta Cheesecakes

April 5, 2008

This recipe practically leaped out of the pages of the latest issue of Bon Appetit at me. I think it was the words “little” and “cheesecakes” in the same phrase that perked up my “miniature dessert” radar. You know I really like little individual serving sweets — see apple cup pies, individual chocolate guinness cakes, molten chocolate babycakes, etc. — but there was another reason I was excited to make these, too.

You see, I recently discovered the web site (WARNING: do NOT click on that link if you consider baking a remotely serious hobby of yours, if you can always find room for one more cake pan among your overflowing shelves of baking equipment, or if you are easily seduced by a whole page full of variously shaped and sized tartlet pans! If you’re like me, you’ll find something you want need every time you visit.) It was like Christmas in our house a week ago when my order arrived!

Among some of the other goodies, one of the things I ordered was a mini cheesecake pan. I know; you’re probably thinking “why would I need a mini cheesecake pan?” Here’s my rationale: I love cheesecake but I don’t make it as often as I might like to because I don’t want to have a huge dense, rich cheesecake sitting around the house all week. But a 2-inch cheesecake? One of those (okay, maybe two) makes a perfectly sized dessert. Perfectly satisfying. Plus I can make smaller batches and try new flavor combinations a lot more easily…that’s enough justification for me! These “little lemony ricotta cheesecakes” were the first batch to be tested in the pan.

I added the graham cracker crust, as the original recipe had the ricotta cheesecake baked in 3/4 cup ramekins (no crust involved) — but you’ll see in the recipe below, I listed directions for making them both ways. And I spooned a little of our ubiquitous lemon curd on top; if you didn’t have any of that around, you could try a dollop of freshly whipped cream, or raspberry sauce (just puree some raspberries with a little sugar and strain out the seeds.)

A word about ricotta cheesecakes: they are delicious, but don’t expect them to taste like New York-style cheesecake. They’re a different breed. Not dense and creamy, but lighter and fluffier, with more texture from the ricotta. And flavored with the lemon zest, these little lemony cheesecakes are a great spring dessert…don’t you just want to pop one of those little sunny, chubby rounds into your mouth? My stomach is growling as I look at that picture…I sure do. Too bad we already ate them all!


Little Lemony Ricotta Cheesecakes

Adapted from Bon Appetit, April 2008

There’s a typo in the original recipe; it says it makes 6 servings, but the directions say to prepare 8 ramekins. Based on the times I made this, it does seem to make enough for 8 ramekins. I halved the recipe and made twelve 2-inch mini cheesecakes in a mini cheesecake pan; if you’re making them in ramekins, just skip the crust step.

Ingredients (for twelve mini (2-inch) cheesecakes, or four 3/4 cup ramekins.)
For the crust:
12 graham crackers
6 tbsp melted unsalted butter

For the cheesecake:
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon peel
1 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
1 large egg

1/3 cup lemon curd


Prepare the crust (if you’re using a mini cheesecake pan):
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

In the bowl of a food processor, place the graham crackers. Blitz until they’re finely ground, then add the melted butter and process again until thoroughly moistened.

Divide the graham crumbs among the wells of the mini cheesecake pan, then use your fingers to press the crumbs down firmly to flatten them into the bottom of the wells.

Place the pan in the oven and bake for about 8 minutes, until the graham crusts are turning golden brown around the edges and are slightly puffed and set in the center. Remove the pan from the oven and let it cool slightly.

Prepare the filling:
Using an electric mixer, beat together the sugar, lemon juice, and lemon peel until the sugar dissolves. Add the cream cheese and ricotta and beat until well blended, about 1 minute. Add the egg and beat until incorporated.

Bake the cheesecakes:
If you’re skipping the crust and just baking these in ramekins, grease each ramekin with a little butter. Divide the batter among the ramekins and place the ramekins on a baking sheet (for ease of getting in/out of the oven.)

If you’re baking mini cheesecakes, divide the batter among the wells of the pan (pour it directly over the pre-baked graham crusts.)

Place the cheesecakes in the oven and bake at 425 F for about 18 minutes, until puffed and set around the edges (the middles will still be a little jiggly.) Cool on a rack, then chill until cold – about 2 hours. The centers will cave in a little, but that’s okay – you’re going to cover it up with lemon curd!

When ready to serve, spoon a generous dollop of lemon curd into the center of each cheesecake and swirl around a bit with the back of a spoon. Serve garnished with a few more strips of lemon peel, if desired.

22 Comments leave one →
  1. Lynne permalink
    April 5, 2008 8:26 am

    Wow! These are so pretty and look like something that you would see in a lovely pastry shop! I can’t wait to try the recipe! Thank you!

  2. April 5, 2008 8:48 am

    Uh oh. I clicked on the link 🙂 Great resource! And I MUST have this pan. I remember seeing this in BA. It’s all clipped out and in my to-try pile!

  3. Ruthanne (in Seattle) permalink
    April 5, 2008 11:21 am

    Thank you for such a lovely blog. I just found it the other day and have enjoyed looking back through your posts. I am a great lemon fan and always have lemon curd. These look fantastic.

  4. April 5, 2008 1:35 pm

    These look awesome – I am going to have to try them this week!

  5. April 5, 2008 1:50 pm

    Lovely! I am longing after a mini cheesecake pan! Love cheesecake and these look like something I would certainly enjoy!

  6. April 5, 2008 6:50 pm

    Yes! Yes, I want to pop a chubby little lemon cheesecake in my mouth! Maybe two. Ok, ok, three. They’re so adorable!

  7. onebagnation permalink
    April 5, 2008 10:16 pm

    I happen to have some ricotta I wanted to bake with, and decided on Berry Muffins (from Dorie G) but these look lovely!

  8. April 6, 2008 4:49 am

    I just happened across your lovely site! Can’t wait to try the cheesecake. I too love the miniature size. But, what I am going to give a go with on this Sunday are your little apple pies!!! Thanks for a great post with lots of pictures and guidance. They are the prettiest little pies I have seen, your technique is wonderful.

  9. April 6, 2008 10:08 am

    Your lovely picture made me finally ‘de-lurk’ from Tastespotting to write this… your posts are sooo yummy! Your mini cheesecakes might possibly combine all of my favourite things; ricotta, cheesecake AND lemon curd. I will definitely have to try this one out. Thank you! 🙂

  10. April 6, 2008 11:58 am

    These look heavenly. I want to stop organizing my taxes and make them right now!

  11. April 6, 2008 5:30 pm

    They just look so delicious. You can never go wrong with lemon curd and cheesecake 🙂 By the way you have such a wonderful blog.

  12. April 11, 2008 10:44 pm

    oh – these are heaven! How did I miss these in Bon Appetit? These are a must try…

  13. April 15, 2008 4:38 pm

    These are 100% adorable!

    Nothing beats a graham cracker crust, & that lemon topping looks delicious!


  14. May 30, 2008 1:46 pm

    Love your blog! Do you have any advice for adapting cheesecake recipes for the mini pan? I just got one yesterday for my birthday, and I’m dying to try it out!

  15. September 30, 2008 1:27 pm

    These look amazing and I am a follower of cheesecake- portions r really not of much concern here.I am sure I’ll be baking these for this weekend. Thansk for posting.

  16. September 30, 2008 3:34 pm

    i just bought a mini cheesecake pan and had a hard time getting the crust flat on the bottom before baking. i found my muddler (for mojitos!) worked fabulously to compact the crumbs in the wells. i’m going to try a lime curd version of your recipe this afternoon. 😉

  17. October 29, 2010 10:49 pm

    I found this site after I learned how to make ricotta cheese from a cooking show in television tonight. I am in the midst of about 4 cups of ricotta, and these little cheesecakes should make the perfect ending to my stuffed shells meal! Thanks for sharing. Kate

  18. Natalie Stewart permalink
    April 28, 2011 1:20 am

    These look perfect for a high tea I’m planning, but can someone tell a non-American are graham crackers sweet or savoury? I’m planning on substituting them with a sweet malt biscuit but just thought I’d check.


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