Cheesecake is a source of shame for me. Not because I could eat a whole one by myself in one sitting (spoiler alert: I can), but because I'm more or less "meh" about the dessert. And I get it! When done well, cheesecake is like a stunning yet understated silk gown by Galliano or a timeless and perfectly tailored cocktail gown by Dior (or countless other brilliant designers that I cannot recall because a fair chunk of my clothes hail from Target). Affinity for cheesecake is something I admire in others; it demonstrates maturity, nuance, and the appreciation of simple things done extraordinarily. Despite my mercurial maturity, this cheesecake is the best I've ever had.
Flavors of cream, caramel-y and deep Amaro, toasted nuts, sweet vanilla, and fruity olive oil. Textures of fluffy creaminess that melts in your mouth in .2 seconds, buttery cookies, and delicately crunchy nuts.
In the bowl of a food processor
1 3/4 cups (204g) vanilla wafers crumbs
1 cup (120g) walnuts, pureed
1/2 cup (105g) light brown sugar
4 tablespoons (56g) butter, melted
3 tablespoons of Amaro
Pinch of salt
Dash of vanilla extract
In a large bowl or bowl of a standing mixer
4 boxes (32 oz., 908g) of cream cheese
Hanging out on the sidelines
1 1/2 cups (300g) granulated sugar
5 whole eggs
1/2 cup (100g) extra virgin olive oil
3/4 cup (170g) ricotta (makes if fluffier) or sour cream (makes it smoother)
1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly spray or butter a standard 9-inch springform pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. Underneath the pan, wrap the outside of the bottom in a few sheets of foil. Set aside.
Make the crust by pulsing the wafers, amaro, sugar, walnuts, butter, and salt in a food processor until the mixture becomes cohesive.
Scatter the mixture into your springform pan and lightly press the crust evenly throughout the bottom and up the sides. Bake the crust for 10 minutes in your preheated oven. Remove and let cool while you make the filling. Bump the oven temperature down to 325 degrees.
Bring 5 cups of water to a simmer in a medium pot. Place your cooling crust into a large roasting pan and set aside.
In a large bowl or the bowl of a standing mixer, beat the room-temperature cream cheese for 5 minutes. Slowly add in the granulated sugar while continuing to beat for two minutes. Then, add the eggs one at a time while stopping to scrape down the sides as needed. Add the olive oil, followed by vanilla, salt, and ricotta.
Carefully pour the cheesecake filling into the par-baked crust and place the roasting pan on the center rack of your oven. Pour the simmering water into the roasting pan creating a nice warm bath for your cheesecake. Bake for 1 1/2 hours. Friendly reminder for anyone like me who reads through a recipe at light speed and is like, "Yeah, yeah, I got this," but then leaves out 9 steps- make sure you bumped your oven down to 325 degrees.
After 1 1/2 hours, turn off your oven, crack the oven door just a bit, and let the cheesecake hang out for another hour.
After an hour, remove the roasting pan from your oven and move the springform pan to a cooling rack to cool for a few hours. Place a piece of plastic wrap on the cheesecake and move it to the fridge to chill for several hours before serving.