Authentic Italian Cheesecake (Torta di Ricotta e Mascarpone)

Some of you asked me about the recipe for the Italian Cheesecake (made with ricotta) always served in italian restaurants, that is lighter, airy and fluffier than the american one, so I made for you a little research and some tests to find the best one.


best italian cheesecake ricotta mascarpone fluffy soft

I personally like more the NewYork Cheesecake version (you can find the best recipe ever here) because it kinda reminds me my beloved journeys to the U.S., but whichever you prefer, if you’ll make this italian Cheesecake you’ll love it so much that you’ll have to restrain yourself from not eating the entire cake! (I’m not joking, me and my husband ate it in just 2 days and we fought for the last slice…)

The first two recipes I tried, provide for just ricotta as a main ingredient but, although the flavors were lovely, they didn’t send me to the moon because the texture was a bit grainy and less smooth.

So I swapped out half of ricotta for mascarpone cheese, known for its silky texture and its sweet taste. And that’s when I found the best version. Smooth, lighter but rich in flavour, so fluffy and delicate, just amazing! Especially when eaten after an overnight rest (covered and refrigerated), so the flavors have time to blend, as for every cheesecake. After 2 days in the fridge it’s even better, but who can wait for 2 days to eat it?!

So this is my “go to” italian cheesecake, definitely your sweet tooth will be satisfied!

best italian cheese cake ricotta mascarpone sliced

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Authentic Italian Cheesecake (Torta di Ricotta e Mascarpone)

Difficulty: easy
Preparation: 20 minutes Cooking Time: 90 minutes
Yield: 8-12 servings

Ingredients:

for the base:

  • 200 gr / 2 cups / 7 oz graham crackers finely crushed (I use the classic italian cookies Oro Saiwa)
  • 30-50 gr / 1/8-1/4 cup / 1-2 oz sugar (I use 30 gr)
  • 110 gr / 1/2 cup / 4 oz unsalted butter

for the filling:

  • 250 gr / 1 1/8 cups / 9 oz whole milk ricotta (cow or sheep or mixed, I use both mixed because the cheesecake will be tastier)
  • 250 gr / 1 1/8 cups / 9 oz mascarpone cheese
  • 100-120 gr / 1/2-3/4 cup / 3.5-4.5 oz sugar (I use 100 gr)
  • 1/2 vanilla pod or 1tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp (10 gr) cornstarch or potato starch
  • 3 eggs (separated)
  • a pinch of salt

for the topping:

  • fresh fruit, fruit sauces, chocolate sauces….

Instructions:

Make sure that the ingredients are at room temperature before you star mixing the filling.

If ricotta is too watery put it in a sieve or a cheesecloth set over a bowl for at least 30 minutes, but I’ve never had to do this so just drain it when you see that it loses liquid.

Grease with a no-stick spray or some butter the bottom and sides of a 23 cm / 9 inch springform pan or use a sheet of baking paper.

italian cheesecake silicon springform pan

As you can see, I use a silicone springform pan, it’s perfect for cheesecakes!

To make the crust, mix the graham crackers crumbs, sugar and melted butter until combined. Press this mixture over the bottom of the springform pan and about 2,5 cm / 1 inch up the sides.

italian cheese cake oro saiwa

Classic Italian cookies for cheese cake – they don’t contain eggs

Preheat the oven to 175°C / 350°F / gas mark 4.

Using an electric mixer beat ricotta, mascarpone, sugar and cornstarch just until smooth (do not over beat!).

Add egg yolks one at a time and beat for no more than 30 seconds each, to avoid the cheesecake to crack in the oven.

If used, split half the vanilla bean pod and scrape out the seeds. Add them (or the vanilla extract) into the batter and combine.

In a separate high bowl whip egg whites with a pinch of salt until forming stiff and firm peaks.

italian cheesecake egg whites firm

Add whipped egg whites to the ricotta and mascarpone batter.

italian cheese cake batter complete

Mix slowly with an upward movement of the spoon or spatula to avoid undoing the whipping of the egg whites (if you want a less fluffier cake, put no whipped egg whites together with the yolks).

italian cheesecake batter springform pan

Pour the cheesecake batter into the springform pan and level the top with a spatula or the back of a spoon.

italian cheesecake batter leveled springform pan

Reduce the oven temperature to 150°C / 300°F / gas mark 2 and bake for about 90 minutes, when the top is lightly golden and/or a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Turn off the oven and leave the oven door ajar for 20 minutes, then remove the cake and let cool to room temperature before covering with plastic wrap.

best authentic italian cheese cake torta ricotta baked top

Refrigerate for several hours or preferably overnight. Don’t eat it if it’s not chilled well because it will not taste like a cheesecake but like a mousse (well… it wouldn’t be so bad though, right?).

italian cheesecake baked side

Serve the italian cheesecake with fresh fruit, fruit sauces, chocolate sauces or whatever you like! (I usually use a blueberry jam and some mixed preserved berries to garnish).

best italian cheese cake topped blueberry sauce

best italian cheesecake ricotta mascarpone authentic

perfect italian cheese cake ricotta mascarpone soft fluffy

As you can see from the pictures, the inside of my cheesecake is yellow but that’s why I used eggs with orange yolk, so if you use normal eggs the cheesecake will be as white as usual. Enjoy!

best italian cheese cake torta ricotta mascarpone airy soft

Authentic Italian Cheesecake (Torta di Ricotta e Mascarpone)
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Classic Italian Cheesecake with ricotta and mascarpone, smooth and lighter but rich in flavour.
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 8
Ingredients
for the base:
  • 200 gr / 2 cups / 7 oz graham crackers finely crushed (I use the classic italian cookies Oro Saiwa)
  • 30-50 gr / ⅛-1/4 cup / 1-2 oz sugar (I use 30 gr)
  • 110 gr / ½ cup / 4 oz unsalted butter
for the filling:
  • 250 gr / 1⅛ cups / 9 oz whole milk ricotta (cow or sheep or mixed, I use both mixed because the cheesecake will be tastier)
  • 250 gr / 1⅛ cups / 9 oz mascarpone cheese
  • 100-120 gr / ½-3/4 cup / 3.5-4.5 oz sugar (I use 100 gr)
  • ½ vanilla pod or 1tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp (10 gr) cornstarch or potato starch
  • 3 eggs (separated)
  • a pinch of salt
for the topping:
  • fresh fruit, fruit sauces, chocolate sauces....
Instructions
  1. Make sure that the ingredients are at room temperature before you star mixing the filling.
  2. If ricotta is too watery put it in a sieve or a cheesecloth set over a bowl for at least 30 minutes, but I've never had to do this so just drain it when you see that it loses liquid.
  3. Grease with a no-stick spray or some butter the bottom and sides of a 23 cm / 9 inch springform pan or use a sheet of baking paper.
  4. To make the crust, mix the graham crackers crumbs, sugar and melted butter until combined. Press this mixture over the bottom of the springform pan and about 2,5 cm / 1 inch up the sides.
  5. Preheat the oven to 175°C / 350°F / gas mark 4.
  6. Using an electric mixer beat ricotta, mascarpone, sugar and cornstarch just until smooth (do not over beat!).
  7. Add egg yolks one at a time and beat for no more than 30 seconds each, to avoid the cheesecake to crack in the oven.
  8. If used, split half the vanilla bean pod and scrape out the seeds. Add them (or the vanilla extract) into the batter and combine.
  9. In a separate high bowl whip egg whites with a pinch of salt until forming stiff and firm peaks.
  10. Add whipped egg whites to the ricotta and mascarpone batter.
  11. Mix slowly with an upward movement of the spoon or spatula to avoid undoing the whipping of the egg whites (if you want a less fluffier cake, put no whipped egg whites together with the yolks).
  12. Pour the cheesecake batter into the springform pan and level the top with a spatula or the back of a spoon.
  13. Reduce the oven temperature to 150°C / 300°F / gas mark 2 and bake for about 90 minutes, when the top is lightly golden and/or a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Turn off the oven and leave the oven door ajar for 20 minutes, then remove the cake and let cool to room temperature before covering with plastic wrap.
  14. Refrigerate for several hours or preferably overnight.
  15. Serve the italian cheesecake with fresh fruit, fruit sauces, chocolate sauces or whatever you like!

Authentic Gelatin-Free Panna Cotta

Thinking of a famous dessert you can find in almost every italian restaurant, I remembered how my grandmothers use to do it, with simple and easy available ingredients. I’ve made several tests to achieve a perfect result because unfortunately I didn’t have a recipe in hand….. so now let’s talk about a delicious, creamy, delicate and authentic gelatin-free Panna Cotta!


authentic gelatin-free panna cotta best perfect italian

Panna Cotta (pron. pun-nuh cot-tuh – means “cooked cream”) is a great italian dessert, born in the Piedmont region and then widespread all over Italy, generally made from cream, set with gelatine, served chilled and topped with chocolate, wild berries or caramel sauce.

But some time ago people didn’t have widely available gelatin in their pantry and they used egg whites instead. So this recipe can be useful to use up leftover egg whites instead of throwing them away (you can freeze extra egg whites and defrost them in the fridge when you’re ready to use them).

Today you can find gelatin in every grocery store and you can do Panna Cotta easily in few minutes, but I like this traditional Panna Cotta recipe the most because I think it has the real Panna Cotta taste.

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Authentic Gelatin-Free Panna Cotta

Difficulty: medium
Preparation: 5 minutes + cooling time Cooking Time: 90 minutes
Yield: 4

Ingredients:

  • 500 ml double / heavy cream (2+1/3 cup)
  • 150 gr egg whites (about 5 medium eggs, but try to be precise) *
  • 80/100 gr granulated white sugar (I use 80 gr / 3 oz) *
  • 1/2 empty vanilla pod or 1/4 vanilla pod with seeds

(*I prefer to not convert these ingredients in volume measures because in desserts the weights are essential for the final result)

Instructions:

Place the cream, sugar and vanilla pod in a pan and bring to the simmer. Remove from heat, remove the vanilla pod and let cool.

cream vanilla pod sugar panna cotta

Preheat oven to 300°F – 150°C – gas mark 2.

In a bowl beat the egg whites with a fork, paying attention to not create foam or bubbles or your Panna Cotta will come out with holes, until the whites are become liquid quite like water and have lost elasticity. If you can find them at the grocery store, use pasteurized egg whites that are better because they usually are perfectly liquid.

Update: a reader commented saying that she used an immersion blender to beat the egg whites instead of a fork. It took about 15 seconds to make the texture like water, and by keeping the whole blade under the surface it made no bubbles.

egg whites bubbles

Add egg whites to the cream mixture (as you can see from the picture above, I created foam, because I was in a hurry, but I resolved by using a sieve in adding egg whites to the cream mixture and it also stopped any egg whites impurities).

Mix well with a fork and divide the mixture among buttered non-stick moulds.

panna cotta mixture mould

Immediately, pour boiling water into a baking pan until the water level reach 3/4 of the moulds.

panna cotta boiling water

Place the moulds in the pan (bain-marie method).

panna cotta moulds baking pan

The picture may show 1/3, but the boiling water has to reach 3/4 of the moulds height.

Bake at 300°F – 150°C – gas mark 2 for 1 1/2 hour (90 minutes) or until the surface is golden brown.
If you bake Panna Cotta at 275°F – 140°C – gas mark 1 you would need about 2 hours and the surface will be less coloured.

Turn off the oven and let cool Panna Cotta completely inside it before covering the moulds with plastic wrap.

panna cotta baked

Refrigerate several hours (at least 4).

To serve, unmould the Panna Cotta by passing a thin knife, or a long needle, heated in boiling water around the inside of each one. Turn each Panna Cotta out onto a dessert plate holding the base with a warm cloth to help the release. If you don’t like the soft brown crust at the end of Panna Cotta, remove it before serving.

Spoon your favourite sauce or fresh fruit over or just dust with some icing sugar.

authentic gelatin-free panna cotta italian best

Ooops! Sorry, I couldn’t wait! 😉

authentic gelatin-free panna cotta eat best

And now you have your creamy, hearty, authentic Panna Cotta! Yes, it’s a bit long recipe but really worth the results!

Authentic Gelatin-Free Panna Cotta
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Creamy, hearty, authentic Panna Cotta!
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 500 ml double / heavy cream (2+1/3 cup)
  • 150 gr egg whites (about 5 medium eggs, but try to be precise) *
  • 80/100 gr granulated white sugar (I use 80 gr / 3 oz) *
  • ½ empty vanilla pod or ¼ vanilla pod with seeds
Instructions
  1. Place the cream, sugar and vanilla pod in a pan and bring to the simmer.
  2. Remove from heat, remove the vanilla pod and let cool.
  3. Preheat oven to 300°F - 150°C - gas mark 2.
  4. In a bowl beat the egg whites with a fork, paying attention to not create foam or bubbles or your Panna Cotta will come out with holes, until the whites are become liquid quite like water and have lost elasticity.
  5. Add egg whites to the cream mixture..
  6. Mix well with a fork and divide the mixture among buttered non-stick moulds.
  7. Immediately, pour boiling water into a baking pan until the water level reach ¾ of the moulds.
  8. Place the moulds into the pan (bain-marie method).
  9. Bake at 300°F - 150°C - gas mark 2 for 1½ hour (90 minutes) or until the surface is golden brown. If you bake Panna Cotta at 275°F - 140°C - gas mark 1 you would need about 2 hours and the surface will be less coloured.
  10. Turn off the oven and let cool Panna Cotta completely inside it before covering the moulds with plastic wrap.
  11. Refrigerate several hours (at least 4).
  12. To serve, unmould the Panna Cotta by passing a thin knife, or a long needle, heated in boiling water around the inside of each one. Turn each Panna Cotta out onto a dessert plate holding the base with a warm cloth to help the release.
  13. If you don't like the soft brown crust at the end of Panna Cotta, remove it before serving.
  14. Spoon your favourite sauce or fresh fruit over or just dust with some icing sugar.