Sunday, January 22, 2012

Limoncello Cheesecake Squares

There are two universal facts about cheesecake:
#1 - everybody loves cheesecake
#2 - no matter how much they love it, nobody has enough room for a whole slice of it after a big dinner.

That's why these cheesecake squares are such a great idea! You can have one if your are fairly full, and a few if you are really in the mood for cheesecake. Hey - we're not judging. I myself happen to like these cheesecake squares first thing in the morning, right out of the fridge. They're handy like that.

The cheesecake turned out smooth and perfect, no cracking or sinking or any other potential cheesecake pitfalls. And the limoncello? Inspired! I love the light lemony flavour with the subtle kick of the booziness. Perfect for when you are having friends over.

Limoncello Cheesecake Squares
For Cookbook Sundays #7
Giada De Laurentiis, Giada's Family Dinners
Also available on FoodNetwork.com

Ingredients

    Nonstick cooking spray
    8 ounces purchased biscotti
    6 tablespoons (¾ stick) unsalted butter, melted
    3 tablespoons grated lemon zest
    1 (12-ounce) container fresh whole milk ricotta, drained, at room temperature
    2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
    1¼ cups sugar
    ½ cup limoncello liqueur*, store bought or homemade, recipe follows
    2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    4 large eggs, at room temperature

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray the bottom of a 9 by 9 by 2-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Finely grind the biscotti in a food processor. Add the melted butter and 1 tablespoon of lemon zest, and process until the crumbs are moistened. Press the crumb mixture over the bottom (not the sides) of the prepared pan. Bake until the crust is golden, about 15 minutes. Cool the crust completely on a cooling rack.

Blend the ricotta in a clean food processor until smooth. Add the cream cheese and sugar and blend well, stopping the machine occasionally and scraping down the sides of the work bowl. Blend in the limoncello, vanilla, and remaining 2 tablespoons of lemon zest. Add the eggs one at a time, and pulse just until blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Pour the cheese mixture over the crust in the pan. Place the baking pan in a large roasting pan. Pour enough hot water into the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the baking pan. Bake until the cheesecake is golden and the center of the cake moves slightly when the pan is gently shaken, about 1 hour (the cake will become firm when it is cold).

Transfer the cake to a rack; cool 1 hour. Refrigerate until the cheesecake is cold, at least 8 hours and up to 2 days. Cut the cake into squares and serve.

*Limoncello liqueur can be found at most liquor stores and in the liquor department of some specialty markets. If limoncello liqueur is unavailable at stores near you, use the following recipe to make your own limoncello liqueur.

Limoncello:

    10 lemons
    1 (750-ml) bottle vodka
    3 1/2 cups water
    2 1/2 cups sugar

Using a vegetable peeler, remove the peel from the lemons in long strips (reserve the lemons for another use). Using a small sharp knife, trim away the white pith from the lemon peels; discard the pith. Place the lemon peels in a 2-quart pitcher. Pour the vodka over the peels and cover with plastic wrap. Steep the lemon peels in the vodka for 4 days at room temperature.

Stir the water and sugar in a large saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Cool completely. Pour the sugar syrup over the vodka mixture. Cover and let stand at room temperature overnight.

Strain the limoncello through a mesh strainer. Discard the peels. Transfer the limoncello to bottles. Seal the bottles and refrigerate until cold, at least 4 hours and up to 1 month.

Makes: 7 cups
CookbookSundays