Cheesecake is one of my favorite desserts—I love when it's not too sweet and still really tastes of cheese, which is usually the case when ricotta is involved. I've been dreaming of an amaro version since working for Frankie's in Brooklyn, where I always had one with the other after a long shift. So, I took some cues from their excellent recipe (in their eponymous cookbook) and from Sarah Jampel's lemon bar version. The result? Something slightly bitter, enough sweet, and very creamy—just right to impress friends and family around the holidays. For the crust, I used Anna's Ginger Thins because I love them dearly, but most gingersnap cookies will do. —Samantha Weiss Hills
- Makes one 9-inch cheesecake
- For the crust:
gingersnap cookies, crushed (2 cups crumbs)
unsalted butter, melted
- For the filling:
8-ounce packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups
Zest of 1/2 an orange
amaro, or more to taste
large eggs, at room temperature
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. In a medium bowl, stir together the ginger wafer crumbs and granulated sugar. Mix in the melted butter until the crumbs are all moist and clump together slightly when you press them.
- Transfer the mixture to a 9-inch springform pan—you can butter or grease it for good measure if you like—and press it evenly onto the bottom and about 2 inches up the sides of the pan. Bake until the crust is fragrant and slightly darker, 9 to 12 minutes. Let the pan cool on a rack and lower the oven temperature to 300°F.
- In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese, ricotta, and a pinch of salt on medium speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl and paddle frequently, until very smooth and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Make sure the cheese is lump-free.
- Add the sugar and continue beating until fully blended and smooth.
- Add the orange zest and amaro and beat until incorporated, about 30 seconds. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until just blended. Be careful not to overbeat the eggs—it can cause the cheesecake to puff too much and result in cracks across its surface. (Alternate method: At this step, you can separate the eggs and just add the yolks to the cheese mixture. Then, whip the egg whites into stiff peaks and fold into the cheese mixture. I've found similar results with both ways.)
- Pour the filling into the cooled crust and smooth the top. Bake at 300° F until the center jiggles when nudged, 55 to 65 minutes. The cake should be a little puffy around the edges and moist in the center.
- Set on a rack and cool completely, then cover and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 8 hours and up to 3 days.
- When ready to serve, unclasp the springform pan and remove the side. Run a knife under the bottom crust of the cheesecake. Carefully slide the cake onto a flat serving plate.
- Keep in the refrigerator, covered loosely, for up to 5 days.