but molly, don't you hate cheesecake?
hated. i hated cheesecake. i used to love it, and then i overdosed on it by way of those little individually wrapped cheesecake bites that were big in the 90s, and then i didn't eat it again until 2010 when jeff forced a bite of ricotta cheesecake on me. it was fluffy and not at all tangy like the cream cheese cheesecakes of my youth. it blew my mind, ohmygod it was so good.
and then what happened?
i went back to hating it because baking cheesecake at the town bakery was a real bitch. it required a lot of steps, a lot of bowls, a lot of patience that i didn't yet have, and it wasn't as fun to decorate as the other cakes. (no offense to the cheesecake at the town bakery, people go gaga over it.)
but this cheesecake requires some patience, no?
it does, kind of. but i understand it now. i understand that in order to avoid cracks in a cheesecake, you need to cool it down gradually. you can't just take it out of the oven and wham-bam flip it onto a cooling rack. you have to caress it out of the oven, gently do this, gently do that, sing it a song, and then let it chill. but (!!) because these cheesecakes are miniature, all of that cooling down business is sped up, and if you want to eat one before the whole process has completed, you can and no one will notice because it's not like you have to take a slice out of one big cake. also (!!!!!!!) only one bowl is required. one!
shavuot is coming! and on shavuot, we eat dairy.
why is this cheesecake different from all the other cheesecakes?
i follow this stranger on social media who recently made a mention of a *parmesan* cheesecake that he had in barcelona and it was so umami-y and good. that inspired me to add parmesan to my long-time-coming foray into ricotta cheesecake. i don't remember the stranger's name or his handle. (if you're reading this, barcelona cheesecake man, thank you!!) additionally, correct me if i'm wrong, but i don't think that authentic italian ricotta cheesecakes normally have a crust. but crust! it's my favorite part. so i added one, and it takes up almost a third of the entire cake, a ratio that i am ok with.
describe this cheesecake in 19 words.
fluffy, creamy, light, slightly sweet, cute, a good beginner's cheesecake, lemony, polite, and with a subtle aftertaste of parmesan.
mini ricotta + parmesan cheesecakes
makes 22 cheesecakes
18 large rectangles (that is, 36 squares, or 2 full pouches, or just under 10 oz) of graham crackers
a good pinch of kosher salt
10 tb unsalted butter, melted
1/4 c flour
1 c sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 c shredded parmesan
30 oz whole milk ricotta
zest of one lemon
juice of 1/2 lemon (or of a whole lemon, if you like it extra lemony)
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
4 large eggs
1 c jam
preheat oven to 375 f. line 22 cupcake tins with paper liners, grease them, and set them aside.
in a food processor, process the living daylights out of your graham crackers. add the salt and process a little more. we want a nice fine crumb. with the processor running, drizzle in the melted butter and process for a few seconds until the mixture clumps together. spoon the mixture into your cupcake tins (roughly two tablespoons of the mixture per tin) and then use a glass or spoon to press it down firmly and evenly. if the mixture is sticking to your glass or spoon, spray it with a little cooking spray.
set the cupcake tins in the fridge while you make the filling.
to make the filling, you're gonna use your food processor again. don't worry about cleaning it out, it just has butter and graham cracker residue in it and that is ok.
add the flour, sugar, salt, and parmesan, and pulse it a few times to combine everything and break up the parmesan. add the ricotta, lemon zest, lemon juice, and extracts, and process it until smooth. two minutes-ish.
with the processor running, add the eggs one at a time, processing a bit after each one.
spoon the mixture into your cupcake tins. it can come up pretty high, up to about 1/4-inch from the top of the tin. bake for 20 minutes, until the outer edges are set but the centers are still a little jiggly. turn the oven off, open it about halfway, and let them be for about 45 minutes. remove them from the oven and let them cool completely at room temperature. chill them for an hour or two, or overnight.
spoon on your jam.
these will keep in the fridge for up to a week.