We have an unruly bunch of thorny vines all around our yard, which normally would drive me crazy, but because they bear such great blackberries, we can’t bring ourselves to trim them. In fact, my husband just collected enough to make me blackberry jam. The blackberry and sauce topping for this week’s Ricotta Cheesecake by prop stylist Dani Fisher is another perfect way to use those late summer berries. Dani uses various fruits to top this cheesecake, including plums, so if you can’t get your hands on blackberries, don’t worry. Use what you have, and enjoy the cheesecake! — Kristina
About Dani: Dani started her career as a stylist with Cookie Magazine just a few days out of college. She then joined Food and Wine Magazine as a home and style editor, where she was also a staff prop stylist and a market and design editor. After leaving Food and Wine in 2007, she began working as a freelance prop stylist and food writer. She regularly writes reviews for BlackBoardEats LA and has recently worked on Susan Feniger’s STREET cookbook, Nancy Silverton’s The Mozza Cookbook, and Bryant Terry’s Vegan Soul Kitchen, among many other projects.
The full recipe continues after the jump…
Ricotta Cheesecake with Berries and Sauce
For the berries and sauce
- 2 cartons of blackberries
- 2 cups of medium- to full-bodied red wine
- 1 1/2 cups of sugar (1 cup for macerating and 1/2 cup to help thicken the caramel)
- couple sprigs of fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon of black peppercorns
1. To macerate the berries, combine all the ingredients in a bowl (save for 1/2 cup of sugar), toss together with your hands to keep the delicate berries intact, cover and refrigerate overnight.
2. Once macerated, carefully remove the blackberries with a spoon or your fingers, taking care to not smash them. Set aside.
3. Strain the wine liquid into a saucepan, making sure to remove all the peppercorns.
4. Add the thyme back into the pot with the 1/2 cup of sugar you set aside. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring in the extra sugar until it dissolves. Then turn down the heat so the mixture is just simmering.
5. Allow to simmer and thicken for 30 minutes or until the mixture is syrupy — it should begin to stick to the back of a metal spoon. Let cool.
For the cake
- 3/4 cup softened butter
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- zest from 2 large lemons (Meyer if you can get them)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 large eggs, separated, whites beaten until stiff peaks form
- 1 cup full-fat ricotta cheese (If you can get your hands on fresh ricotta, you will taste the difference.)
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- powdered sugar for dusting
- dash of salt
1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and butter an 8-inch springform pan.
2. Using a wooden spoon or a hand mixer, cream the butter and sugar. Then add the ricotta, vanilla, lemon zest and egg yolks.
3. In a separate bowl, combine and mix the dry ingredients. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and combine until well integrated. Then fold in the egg whites.
4. Bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean and the sides and top of the cake are beginning to turn golden brown. Unmold and let cool.
To assemble the cake
Use a strainer to dust the cake with powdered sugar. (I like to totally cover the top of the cake with a thin layer of sugar.) Then carefully arrange the blackberries on top of the cake. (I like to pile them in the center, leaving a rim of the powdered sugar showing.) Serve with the red wine sauce. (I like to let guests pour their own sauce, so it doesn’t soak into and stain the cake before serving.)
Why Dani Chose This Recipe
I love the versatility of this recipe — it works as well for brunch as it does after dinner with espresso. The berries and red wine sauce enrich the dish without making it overly sweet — something I am always looking to avoid with desserts. And it is beautiful; as a stylist, this is as important to me as taste!