Cassata Arance

If you are accustomed to cream cheese based cheesecakes, this may take an adjustment for your tastebuds.  Sicilian cheesecakes, or cassatas, are made with ricotta cheese and are not as sweet and unlike American cheesecakes, they are lighter and have almost a baked custard texture.

And as for oranges, forget Florida.  It doesn’t get any better than a Sicilian blood orange or arance.  Their centers are blood red like a pink grapefruit.  If your local grocer doesn’t carry blood oranges, which there is a good bet that they don’t, you can substitue with mandarins for this recipe.  The key is finding a sharp tart orange, the smaller the better the concentrated flavour.

It is critical that you have a springform pan for this recipe, a round cake pan just will not suffice.  The water used in the glass dish allows for the cake to remain moist while baking.  This will reduce the chance of the cake cracking or separating.

I hope you like this dessert as much as I do, it displays beautifully and is just so tasty!

Ingredientscheesecake

2 16 oz. containers of ricotta cheese (typically found near cottage cheese in the grocery)

1/2 cup sugar

6 large eggs

1/3 cup flour, sifted

2 blood oranges

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • Preheat oven to 275 F.
  • Grease and lightly flour springform pan.*
  • Using aluminium foil, wrap the base of the springform pan to prevent seapage.
  • Set pan in a glass baking dish, 13 x 9.
  • Fill glass dish halfway with tap water.
  • In a large mixing bowl, beat ricotta at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth.
  • With a whisk, stir in sugar and flour into ricotta until well blended.
  • One at a time, beat eggs into mixture.
  • Add spices and vanilla, blend thoroughly.
  • Using a zester or the rough side of a peeler, grate a few spoonfuls of orange peel into a bowl.
  • Peel oranges and segment.
  • Pour one half of batter into springform pan.
  • Gently lay orange segments onto the batter, do not stir.
  • Pour remaining batter over top.
  • Sprinkle orange peel zest over top.
  • Bake for 1 hour, or until knife comes out clean.
  • Remove springform pan from water and allow to cool for at least one hour before unhinging.
  • Serve after slightly cooled.

*If you can find them, there are aerosol sprays that have flour and oil combined and work perfectly for this purpose.  I prefer Baker’s Joy brand.

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