Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Rhubarb Cheese Torte

This is not your average cheesecake. In a nutshell, a walnutty crust, topped with rhubarb that has been stewed in Grand Marnier, topped with a ricotta-cream cheese mixture, topped by more crumbled crust.

I have been wanting to make this dessert for years, but for some reason or another have never gotten around to it. Our super-brunch on Sunday was a perfect reason to make it, and it was adored by everyone - including the kids. So much so, that I forgot to take a picture of it, before it was, literally, almost gone.

This recipe is from Sarah Leah Chase's Cold Weather Cooking cookbook. This is a book that I bought when I was just out of high school and I have made so many great recipes from it. She takes you through the fall, Thanksgiving, Christmas, the long winter, and into spring. There are several rhubarb recipes in the spring section, and I have tried most of them. If you come across this book in a second hand store or in a bargain bin somewhere, snap it up. You can never have too many great cookbooks.

Rhubarb Cheese Torte

4 c. fresh rhubarb, diced
1 2/3 c. granulated sugar
1/3 c. Grand Marnier, Triple Sec or other orange liqueur
1 c. all purpose flour
1/2 c. walnut pieces
2 t. ground cinnamon
1 T. orange zest
1/2 c. unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into small pieces
15 oz. ricotta cheese
8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
2 t. vanilla extract
3 eggs

1. Place the rhubarb, 2/3 c. of the sugar, and the liqueur in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally, then reduce the heat and simmer until the rhubarb is cooked and thick, about 15 minutes. Set aside to cool.
2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch springform pan. Cut a circle of parchment paper and fit it into the bottom of the pan. Butter the parchment paper.
3. For the crust, process the flour, 1/2 cup of the remaining sugar, the walnuts, cinnamon, and orange zest together in a food processor until the nuts are finely chopped. Add the butter and process just until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Press half the crumb mixture over the bottom of the prepared pan. Reserve the remaining crumbs for the top.
4. In an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together the ricotta, cream cheese, and the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar until very smooth. Beat in the vanilla and then the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Pour the rhubarb over the crumb layer in the pan. Top with the cheese layer, using a spatula to smooth and distribute it evenly.
5. Bake the cheesecake 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle the top with the remaining crumb mixture and bake until the top is golden brown, about 20 minutes more.
6. Let the cheesecake cool completely on a rack, then refrigerate for a couple of hours before serving. Remove the side of the pan and cut into generous wedges.
Makes 8-10 servings.