April 12th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

For Italians, Easter is a huge baking holiday. Pies, cakes, breads and cookies, both savory and sweet, grace the Easter tables of all Italian families. I think Easter may have surpassed Christmas in terms of baking. Because of Lenten sacrifices and fasting, the baked goods became a little more involved than at Christmas. On Easter day when Lent is over, the flood gates of sweets and meats burst open.


Every Italian Nonna across the globe, is making sweet braided breads studded with colored eggs, cookies with pastel sprinkles and pies and cakes that are a mile high. Some pies are made from wheat berries, some are loaded with different cheeses and dried meats and then there’s the more modest of the bunch….ricotta cheesecake. I love this silky, smooth, lemony cheesecake. It’s simply delicious.

The most important thing about making this cake, is the quality of ricotta cheese. Buy the best you can. The better cheeses don’t have as much liquid, making the cake a little more dense and rich. The second most important thing, is after cooling at room temperature, refrigerate the cake overnight to set completely.

If you don’t have your Nonna’s recipe for ricotta cheesecake, try this one. It’s grandmother approved.


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Tiramisu Cheesecake

October 17th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

I know this cheesecake isn’t an Italian dessert, but I wanted to post it anyway. Mascarpone cheese, which is the base for Tiramisu and in this cake, is made in the Lombardy region of Italy. Since I’m focusing on recipes from this region, I decided to make something with this popular cheese. Mascarpone cheese has the consistency of cream cheese. By itself, its pretty tasteless, but once it’s mixed with sugar, it comes alive. This is why it’s used in so many desserts. I don’t need to explain what Tiramisu is, I think everyone knows. It’s a favorite desert of many people; until they taste this cheesecake. It has the same flavors as Tiramisu, but only better. It’s creamier and richer.

I found this recipe many years ago, 1992 to be exact. It was one of those situations, where you’re in a doctor’s office flipping through a magazine, and you see something that catches your eye, so you tear out the page. Oh..come on, you can’t tell me you’ve never done that! But, just to let you know, my tearing magazine days are over. I now photograph the page with my trusty cel phone.

I think this recipe was in an issue of Ladies Home Journal. (The bottom of the page is worn, but I think that’s what it says.) When I first saw it, I knew I NEEDED this recipe. It’s surprisingly easy to make, it’s delicious and impressive. It’s luscious & creamy, with a hint of coffee & brandy. It’s one of those desserts that I’ve made endless times, and without a doubt, someone will ask me for the recipe. I decided to share this fabulous cheesecake recipe with you…you lucky people.

(By the way, I made this cake for one of my close friends. Happy Birthday, Philomena.)


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Cannoli Cheesecake w/ Cannoli Shell Crust

September 4th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

All month I’ve been posting recipes from Sicily. As my last post for this region, I wanted to end with something sweet. How could I not include the most popular sweet in all of Sicily….Cannoli. Since cannoli are so popular, there are probably a zillon recipes floating around in cyber space, so I decided to make another type of cannoli….cannoli cheesecake.
Although you probably won’t find cannoli cheesecake in all of Sicily, it does have all the flavors of the popular Sicilian treat.
It’s creamy, citrusy, crunchy & a hint of chocolate. This cake is PERFECTION.

For this recipe I mixed cream cheese & ricotta cheese, along with orange zest & mini chocolate chips for the cake. As for the crust, I used crushed cannoli shells as the base, which gave the cheesecake a real cannoli taste. I finished it off by sprinkling some chopped pistachios on top. This is by far my favorite cheesecake! I think even Sicilians would love this.
Cannoli cheesecake, Sicilian? perhaps not…delicious definitely!

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Cheesecake/Carrot Cake

April 2nd, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

Happy Birthday to ME, Happy Birthday to ME, Happy Birthday Dear DIVA, Happy Birthday to ME!!!

On one of my milestone birthdays, I was so depressed that I cried the entire day. My poor husband tried to make the day special. Besides bying me a fantactic gift, he took me to have a fancy dinner at the “Four Seasons” restaurant in Manhattan. Instead of enjoying it, I got upset with him because there were too many “blue haired people,” (are the words I used) in the restaurant and it made me feel old.

When I came to my senses, I realized HOW RIDICULOUS that was! From that point on, I decided not to attach an age to my birthday, but to celebrate it as another year I was blessed with life! If your age gets you down, just start looking at it in a different way. We can’t change the fact that we’re all getting older, but we can change the way we think about it.

I now believe in celebrating my birthday to it’s fullest. For me it doesn’t last a day, I have week long celebrations. One year I actually wrote up an itinerary of activities for my friends to help me celebrate. My birthday has become an event for both me & my friends, that we all look forward to. This year besides the day at the spa, lunch with a few friends, dinner with my husband, then a dinner with my family. I always try to plan something extra fun for me to do with my friends. This year we are going to Arthur Avenue in the Bronx, New York; with some of my closest friends.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with Arthur Avenue, it’s the Italian section of the Bronx which has rows & rows of restaurants and speciality food stores. The restaurant we’re going to is called
“Pasquale Rigaletto’s.” I love this place because not only is the food good, but they have a man that sings old Italian songs, like my father and uncles use to. They would sing, and we kids would sing right along with them not knowing a single word they were saying, nor did we care. All we knew is that we were having fun. This place reminds me of those happy times spent with my family. I can’t think of a better place to celebrate my LIFE!
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The cake is a creamy cheese cake that is sandwiched between 2 layers of carrot cake & covered with a cream cheese icing! It’s decadent, rich & sinful! A must try!


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