This is a delicious, rich, New York-style cheesecake, with a bit of ricotta cheese to lighten it up. Some of the batter is mixed with fruit spread and is then swirled back into the lemony cheesecake batter, for a beautiful appearance, and surprise pop of berry flavor. Although the prep for this cake is not long, it does require resting time in the oven, and then overnight, for best texture, so be sure to plan this one in advance! For best results, read through the entire recipe before starting, so that you have all elements prepared and ready to go. Although for best texture and no cracks it is best to bake in a water bath, I opted to forgo the bath in exchange for a lower baking temp and more rest. Since the cake is being covered, I thought it was worth the risk.
Yield: one 9-inch cake (Serves 12)
Remove all dairy ingredients from the refrigerator and allow them to come to room temperature for easier mixing and a smoother result.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a nine-inch springform pan with butter, or cooking spray.
In a small bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs with the sugar, and mix until evenly distributed. Pour the melted butter over the crumbs and stir until everything is evenly coated.
Pour the mixture into the springform pan. With a spoon (or your fingers) spread the mixture evenly from the middle to the edges of the pan, pressing down as you go. There will be enough crumbs to go about one inch up the side of the pan.
Use the bottom of a metal measuring cup to press the crumbs firmly on the bottom and into the sides.
Place the pan in the middle shelf of the oven and bake for about 7-8 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, and set aside to cool. Wrap the springform pan well with aluminum foil, to avoid any accidents.
Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
Place the cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer, or a large mixing bowl and beat until smooth; then add the ricotta cheese and combine well.
Add the sour cream and mix until it is all incorporated. Mix in the vanilla and lemon zest.
Lightly whisk the eggs in a separate bowl, and then add the eggs into the batter, and combine well.
Take the bowl with the cheese mixture and tap it on the counter to remove air bubbles. This step is important to avoid the cake cracking, and you will be surprised by how many air bubbles will rise!
Remove the fruit spread from the jar and place in a microwave safe bowl, or a small saucepan.
Warm gently on a low flame, or in the microwave, in 10 second increments. We want to heat the fruit spread just until it liquifies so it will combine evenly with the batter.
Remove one cupful of batter and combine with 1/4 cup of the warm fruit spread (not hot!) Reserve the remaining fruit spread to glaze the cake.
Pour the main part of the cheese batter into the prepared crust. Top with spoonfuls of the berry cheesecake mixture. With a small spoon, or thin knife, gently swirl the batter, without scraping the bottom of the pan and disturbing the crust. Don’t overmix, as you want to see the two colors of cheesecake. Tap the pan on the counter just to give the air bubbles one last chance to escape. Sometimes the cake will crack anyway, but we might as well try. (A water bath would avoid this as well).
Place the pan on the middle shelf. Set a timer for one hour. When the timer is done, shut the oven, but leave the cheesecake inside for an additional hour. Do NOT open the door to check or peek at it. It will be just fine. After an hour open the oven door slightly, and leave for another half hour. Then you can remove the cheesecake and allow it to cool completely on the counter.
Cover in plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight, or at least six hours.
Rewarm the remaining fruit spread. Uncover the cheesecake, and dab any moisture off the top by gently dabbing with a paper towel. Pour the fruit spread on top of the cheesecake. (You may not need all of it, but I like it a lot!) Allow the fruit spread to set before cutting, for the neatest slices.
Sponsored by Tuscanini