Feb 22, 2012

Creamy Lime Ricotta Tart with a Gingersnap Crust & Limoncello & Brown Sugar Whipped Cream

If you've never had a cheesecake made with ricotta you've been missing out.  This recipe calls for both ricotta and cream cheese, but the amount of cream cheese is much less than a typical cheesecake.  But don't worry, you won't miss it.

The ricotta provides an amazing lightness to the cake, yet it's still creamy from the addition of the cream cheese.  It's a marriage made in dairy heaven.

And the crust!  Oh man it's good.  The recipe calls for gingersnaps which is a nice compliment to the lime juice and zest.  If you were in a pinch and couldn't find them I believe you could also use Nilla wafers or something equivalent, but truthfully stick to the gingersnaps.  The sharp, tangy ginger really sets this crust apart.

And then there is the whipped cream.  Last but definitely not least.  Ok, yes I am American and thoroughly enjoy Cool-Whip, especially right out of the tub with a spoon.  BUT nothing compares to homemade whipped cream.  And I swear it's so easy.  You don't do anything but watch your mixer whip it up into this dreamy pillow of yum.

The original recipe I intended to make called for rum instead of Limoncello, but oops someone drank it all.  I can't imagine who… (burp).  Some dear friends of ours recently returned from Italy and brought us some lovely Limoncello which I thought would hold up well against the lime and ginger.  
Just be careful not to pour too heavy when adding any booze to your whipped cream otherwise it can separate…then you'll have to drink it with a straw, which may not be a bad thing.  But that is another recipe.

Creamy Lime Ricotta Tart with a Gingersnap Crust & Limoncello & Brown Sugar Whipped Cream
*for a printable version click here
1 cup finely ground gingersnap cookies (ground in a food processor)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/2 oz. melted butter (3 tablespoons)
3 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
15 oz. (1 1/2 cups) ricotta, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large egg yolks
1 1/2 tablespoons finely grated lime zest
2 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
Strips of lime zest for garnish
Whipped Cream:
*Note: this can easily be doubled as it didn't make a huge quantity
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon dark rum or Limoncello, your preference
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Lightly grease tart pan with butter. 
To help make this step easy and less messy, use a sandwich baggie as a glove to grease the pan.  This allows you to get into all the corners with ease and less fuss. 

In a medium bowl, mix the cookie crumbs and sugar with a fork until well blended.  Drizzle melted butter over the crumbs and mix with a fork or your fingers until the crumbs are evenly moistened. 

Place the crumbs in the tart pan and use your hands to spread the crumbs so that they coat the bottom of the pan and start to climb the sides.  Use your fingers to pinch and press some of the crumbs around the inside edge of the pan to cover the sides and evenly create a scant 1/4 inch thick wall.

Redistribute the remaining crumbs evenly over the bottom of the pan, and press firmly to make a compact layer.  Using a metal measuring cup, gently push the crumbs down and use the side of the cup against the sides of the pan to make sure they are even.

Bake the crust until is gives off a fragrant, nutty aroma, about 10 minutes.  Crusts made with lighter colored cookies with brown slightly.  Set the baked crust on a rack and let cool.

In a bowl of a stand up mixer combine the ricotta and cream cheese.  Beat well until no lumps remain, about 3 minutes.

Add the sugar, flour, and salt and continue beating until well blended, about 1 minute.  Add the egg yolks, lime zest, and lime juice.  Beat until just incorporated.

The batter will be a beautiful pale yellow with the bright lime zest popping through.

Using a rubber spatula, scrap the batter into the baked tart crust and spread evenly.

Bake the tart until the filling just barely jiggles when the pan is nudged, about 30-35 minutes.  Let cool completely on wire rack.  Refrigerate the tart in the pan until chilled and firm, 2 to 3 hours.

To prepare the whipped cream, beat the heavy cream with a handheld or stand-up mixer on medium speed until thickened enough to hold very soft peaks.  Add brown sugar, Limoncello (or rum), and vanilla.  Contine to mix until soft peaks form.

Give yourself a dollop and Enjoy!

 Recipe adapted from fine cooking

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