At the core of the traditional American cheesecake is cream cheese, that crowd pleasing, innocuous spreadable cheese that gives the cake its density. I am not particularly partial to New York style cheesecakes, baked to a chalky consistency although it does have its millions of fans, so feel free to stone me on this.
Cheesecake made with the addition of mascarpone cheese is creamier, more “mousse-y” and I find it infinitely more tasty. Mascarpone is a distant relative of cream cheese – actually it’s a triple cream Italian cheese made from creme fraiche. It originated in Lombardy, in the countryside near Milan and there are many etymological explanations for its funny name. My favourite is that it took its name from Cascina Mascherpa (the original spelling was, in fact, “mascherpone”), a farm located between Milan and Pavia, owned by the Mascherpa family.
Real mascarpone is a dessert in itself, maybe topped with berries or spread on grilled bread and drizzled with honey. The following recipe is along the lines of a traditional American cheesecake but the end result is creamier, the sweetness of the mascarpone balanced by the tanginess of the sour cream and the lemon juice.
8 oz Mascarpone Cheese, softened
6.5 oz Cream Cheese, softened
1 1/4 C Sugar
6.5 oz Eggs
1 oz Lemon Juice
1 1/4 ts Vanilla Extract
1/4 ts Salt
2 # Sour Cream
1 C Graham Crackers Crumbs
4 T Butter, melted
- In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream mascarpone, cream cheese, sugar and salt on low-medium speed. You don’t want to incorporate too much air.
- Combine eggs and vanilla extract and add, in 3 additions, to the cheese mixture, until well combined. Scrape well between additions.
- Mix in lemon juice.
- Add sour cream and mix until incorporated. Set aside in the refrigerator.
- Make a crust combining the graham crackers crumbs and the melted butter and press it with your hands onto the bottom of a 10” round springform pan.
- Bake the crust at 325F for 10 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool completely.
- Pour the cheesecake mixture onto the crust. Wrap some foil around the pan and place it into a roasting pan – add about 1” of hot water.
- Bake at 325 for about an hour – or until set. You will know the cheesecake is done when the center jiggles slightly as a solid mass.
- Let cool and refrigerate for at least 4 hours before unmolding. If transferring to a plate, freeze the cheesecake for 30 minutes – it will make it easier to slide it off of the bottom of the pan.