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.