Ricotta Orange Pound Cake

I always have a container of ricotta cheese in my fridge just in case I want to make a baked ziti, a cheesecake or something or other. Unfortunately what ends up happening is, it sits in my fridge, I know it’s there, but I don’t get around to using it until it’s about to expire and then I’m scrambling to make something because I don’t want to throw it out. When this recently happened I decided to make something I made a few years ago, but didn’t come out quite right the first time… a Ricotta Orange Pound Cake. This cake has a nice orange taste and is quite moist thanks to the ricotta cheese.

Ricotta Orange Pound Cake

Ingredients:

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 1/2 cups cake flour*

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 1/2 cups whole-milk ricotta cheese

1 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon sugar

3 large eggs

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 orange, zested

2 tablespoons amaretto

*If you don’t have cake flour, use this method to substitute with all-purpose flour and cornstarch.

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease a loaf pan with butter, or spray with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Stir to blend.

With a mixer, cream together the ricotta cheese, butter, and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after adding each one. Add the vanilla, zest and amaretto and beat until well combined. Add the dry ingredients, a little at a time, and mix until just incorporated.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a cake tester or toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean and the cake pulls away from the sides of the pan, about 45 to 50 minutes. If you find you need to bake it a little longer, you may want to lower the temperature of the oven to ensure that you don’t burn the cake. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Recipe from Food Network

Blood Orange-Olive Oil Cake

I recently picked up Martha Stewart’s newest cookbook – Martha Stewart’s Cakes  – and after going through it I was eager to try out one of the many delicious recipes in it. I was all set to make a butter cake until I came across some blood oranges in my local supermarket and remembered a Blood Orange – Olive Oil cake recipe from the book.

The oranges…

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After zesting and peeling the oranges….

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I squeezed a few segments to get 1/4 cup of juice. While it probably would have been easier just to squeeze the juice into a measuring cup this oddball method was what my hands reached for first.

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After mixing the orange zest and sugar together with my fingers (per the instructions) I then added in the juice and buttermilk and whisked it together with my hand mixer… not my fingers!

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I then added in three eggs and extra-virgin olive oil. No worries… There wasn’t a hint of taste of olive oil in the final outcome and I must say the olive oil produced a very moist cake. If you want some more information on baking with olive oil check out this website.

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And finally I added in a sifted mixture of flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

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I knew this cake was going to be a winner when the batter itself already had a wonderful aroma and it wasn’t even in the oven yet.

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I then poured it into a prepared – I sprayed it with non-stick baking spray – 9 x 5 inch loaf pan and baked it in a 350 degrees preheated oven for about forty-five minutes.

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I first let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for fifteen minutes and then turned it out on the rack to finish cooling overnight.

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Once the cake cooled I made a dark chocolate glaze to drizzle over it. I did so by chopping up two ounces of bittersweet chocolate and then poured warmed heavy cream over it.

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After letting it sit for a few minutes I whisked it together.

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And then drizzled it over the cake.

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I couldn’t wait to slice it into it and was not disappointed. The cake had a nice orange taste and that little bit of chocolate on top was just perfect! The recipe actually called for a honey-sweetened blood-orange compote to go along with it but I opted not to make it and I definitely didn’t miss it.

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Blood Orange – Olive Oil Cake

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

3 blood oranges

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup buttermilk

3 large eggs

2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

2 oz. bittersweet chocolate

1/4 cup heavy cream

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Prepare a 9-by-5 inch with non-stick baking spray. Finely grate enough rind from oranges to yield 1 packed tablespoon zest.

2. Peel the oranges and then working over a bowl squeeze the segments to obtain 1/4 cup juice.

3. Combine sugar and zest in another bowl; using your fingers, rub together well. Add juice and the buttermilk; whisk to combine. Add eggs and oil; whisk to combine. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a small bowl; add to buttermilk mixture, whisking until smooth.

4. Transfer batter to prepared pan. Bake until golden and a cake tester comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool 15 minutes. Turn out cake onto rack to cool completely.

5. Place chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Bring cream to a gentle simmer in a small saucepan. Pour over chocolate, let stand 5 minutes, and then whisk together until smooth. Drizzle over cooled cake and let set about 1 hour.

Ricotta Cheesecake With Almonds

Cheesecakes are the one thing that I never seem to get right. Granted, I have never attempted to make a basic cheesecake I usually go with flavorful ones like pumpkin cheesecake, tiramisu cheesecake, and so forth. When I come to think of it though the pumpkin cheesecake I made wasn’t that bad it was just really dense. I decided to give it another go when I came across a cheesecake recipe in the March 2013 issue of Food Network Magazine – appropriately coined The Cheese Issue – called Ricotta Cheesecake with Almonds. I usually love anything made with almonds so I knew this would be a hit for me.

To begin, I toasted sliced almonds – 1/4 cup for the crust and another 1/3 cup for the topping – in a 350 degrees preheated oven for 5 minutes. I used to skip over toasting nuts whenever I saw it in a recipe but have to come to realize that toasting them definitely enhances their flavor.

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Once the almonds were cool I made the crust for the cheesecake. I combined the almonds, almond biscotti and granulated sugar in my food processor and pulsed the mixture until it was finely ground.

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I then added melted butter and pulsed for a few more seconds so the mixture could come together. Once it did I pressed it into the bottom of an 8-inch springform pan and baked it in the oven for a little over 10 minutes so it could set.

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While the crust was in the oven I did some prep work for the filing. I separated three eggs and used a Microplane to zest an orange. After I removed the crust from the oven I let it cool on a wire rack and lowered the oven temperature to 300 degrees in preparation for baking the cheesecake.

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To make the filling I started by beating the eggs yolks and sugar on high speed for about two minutes until the mixture was a pale yellow.

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I then added in ricotta cheese and beat this for another two minutes until it was smooth.

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And finally I added in almond & vanilla extract, amaretto liqueur and the orange zest.

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I put that part of the filling aside and beat the egg whites with sugar until soft peaks formed.

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To combine the two mixtures I began by folding in 1/3 of the egg white mixture into the ricotta mixture. I then folded in the rest until the two were just combined.

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After all the pulsing, mixing and baking I finally had my crust and filling ready.

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I poured the filling into the crust and baked it for 1 hour 10 minutes. I opted to reduce the baking time by 10 minutes from the directions since the cheesecake looked done according to them – slightly puffed and lightly golden on top.

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I let the cheesecake cool for 20 minutes on a wire rack and then removed the springform ring after running a knife around the edge of the cake to loosen it. Once the cheesecake was completely cooled I added the topping. I sprinkled cinnamon and confectioners’ sugar over the cheesecake, then spread out the 1/3 cup of almonds on top of it and then sprinkled more cinnamon and confectioners’ sugar over the almonds.

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This was a cheesecake success! I will say though that while the recipe name made it seem like almonds would be the dominant flavor that was only the case with the crust, the cheesecake itself really took on the flavor of the orange zest even though there was amaretto and almond extract in it. Either was it was delicious!

Ricotta Cheesecake with Almonds

Courtesy Food Network Magazine

Prep Time: 40 Minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour 40 minutes

Servings: 8

Ingredients

For the crust:

1/4 cup sliced almonds

5 ounces almond biscotti*

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the filling and topping:

3 large eggs, at room temperature, separated

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 pound fresh ricotta (about 2 cups)

1 tablespoon amaretto liqueur

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Grated zest of 1 orange

1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/3 cup sliced almonds, for topping

Directions

Make the crust: Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Spread the almonds for both the crust and topping (1/4 cup plus 1/3 cup) on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until golden, about 5 minutes. Let cool.

Crumble the biscotti into a food processor; add 1/4 cup toasted almonds and the granulated sugar and pulse until finely ground. Add the butter and pulse to combine. Press the mixture into the bottom of an 8-inch springform pan. Bake until set, about 12 minutes, then transfer to a rack and let cool completely. Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees F.

Meanwhile, make the filling: Beat the egg yolks and 1/2 cup granulated sugar in a large bowl with a mixer on high speed until pale, about 2 minutes. Add the ricotta and beat until smooth, about 2 more minutes. Beat in the amaretto, vanilla and almond extracts, and orange zest.

Put the egg whites and the remaining 2 tablespoons granulated sugar in a separate bowl and beat with a mixer on medium-high speed until soft peaks form (do not overbeat). Using a rubber spatula, fold about one-third of the beaten egg whites into the ricotta mixture, then gently fold in the rest until just combined. Scrape the batter into the prepared crust. Bake until slightly puffed and lightly golden on top, about 1 hour, 20 minutes. Transfer to a rack and let cool, 20 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the cake to loosen, then remove the springform ring and let cool completely.

Combine the confectioners’ sugar and cinnamon in a fine-mesh sieve and dust over the cheesecake. Scatter the remaining 1/3 cup toasted almonds on top and dust again. Serve at room temperature.

*5 ounces of biscotti is equivalent to about 8 pieces. I actually used Stella D’oro Almond Biscotti which conveniently came in a 5.5 ounce package.