​​Mascarpone Cheesecake

Cheesecake is one of those “back pocket” desserts that I always like to have on hand.  It freezes well, and you can even slice it frozen and re-freeze what you don’t use.  I have my favorite NY Cheesecake recipe that I’ve used for years, and it’s a no-fail,  but when I was living in Italy, I didn’t have the same access to graham crackers and cream cheese as I did at home, so I had to do a little improvising.  That’s when I stumbled upon this recipe for a Mascarpone Cheesecake.  This was something I always had on hand  – mascarpone is pretty much a staple in Tuscan homes, and much less expensive than it is here.  But if you’re looking for something different,  give this a try.  It is light and delicious, and lovely served with fresh berries tossed in sugar!

A few tips to making a successful cheesecake:

  • Always start with room temperature cream cheese and beat the cream cheese ​until very smooth and ​before ​adding any other ingredients.
  • Have your eggs at room temperature
  • Using the zest from fresh limes, oranges or lemons is what will give your cheesecake a flavor boost.  Zest contains the essential oils, which adds the depth of flavor without the tartness and “liquidity” of juice.
  • Wrap the bottom of the pan in aluminum foil and cook the cheesecake in a water bath to prevent cracking, just make sure you have a tight fitting springform pan to do this, otherwise the water will leak in. You can also bake cheesecake without a water bath, but use a lower temperature oven.​
  • When the baking time is up, turn off the oven and let the cheesecake just sit for an hour or so​.  This helps​ the cheesecake to set up well.
  • If not using right away, remove the spring form pan sides and wrap ​tightly in plastic wrap, leaving ​the bottom​ of the pan on​, and freeze.
  • After a day, you can remove the pan bottom and re-wrap the cheesecake.
  • Slice your pieces while still frozen and put the rest back in the freezer.
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​​Mascarpone Cheesecake



For the Crust
  1. Preheat oven to 350º. Butter the inside of a 9-inch springform pan, and wrap the bottom of the pan with a double layer of aluminum foil. Place the prepared pan on a baking sheet.
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and salt. Add the butter and stir well to moisten all of the crumbs. Pour the crumb mixture into the prepared pan and use your fingers to press gently into an even layer on the bottom and halfway up the sides of the pan. If you are having trouble getting the layer even, use a straight sided glass or measuring cup to gently press the crumb mixture onto the sides and into the corners. Freeze the crust for 10 minutes while the oven heats.
  3. Slide the pan into the oven and bake until the crust is lightly browned and fragrant, about 10 minutes. Turn the oven down to 325º.
For the filling
  1. Using a stand mixer or an electric hand mixer, beat the cream cheese in a large bowl until it is light and very smooth, about 4 minutes.
  2. With the mixer running on medium low speed, slowly pour in the sugar, then the salt. Beat for 3 more minutes. Add the vanilla extract and lemon zest.
  3. Add in the eggs, one at a time, and beat for a full minute after each egg. Scrape down the bowl, reduce the speed to low. Add in the mascarpone and mix thoroughly. ​ Wrap foil around the outside of the pan (see picture below) and pour the mixture into the prepared crust. The batter will come to the top of the springform pan.
  4. Place the springform pan into a roasting pan​ and fill the roasting pan with enough (very) hot tap water—or boiling water—to come halfway up the sides of the springform pan​ ​and place on the center rack of the oven. ​Close the oven door and bake the cheesecake until it is lightly golden on top and the filling is set, but still slightly wobbly in the center, about 90 minutes.
  5. Turn off the oven and prop the door open slightly with a wooden spoon. Let the cheesecake cool for one hour in its water bath. After an hour, gently remove the roasting pan from the oven and lift the springform pan from the water. Carefully remove the foil from the bottom of the pan and set the pan on a cooling rack. Run a knife around the top edge of the cheesecake to release it from the pan. Let the cheesecake cool to room temperature, then cover the top with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours before slicing—an overnight chill is best if you have the time.​

Andiamo Mangiare!​

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