Italian Cheesecake

Italian cheesecake is a heavenly variation on this classic dessert. It’s different from typical American cheesecakes, but you may discover it’s your new favorite!

Freshly made Italian cheesecake on pie pan with slices cut out and stacked in front of cake. Slice on decorative plate in background.
Italian cheesecake is light and airy with a sugary glaze. What a treat!

Three Styles of Cheesecake: Which Is Your Favorite?

The most popular cheesecakes are the New York style cheesecake, Philadelphia cheesecake, and Italian cheesecake. Each is fabulous and has many flavors, like this incredible Butterfinger Cheesecake. However, this Italian version might find a special place in your heart.

Commonly Asked Questions about Cheesecake

Here are my answers to some commonly asked questions about homemade cheesecake.

Can I substitute ricotta for cream cheese in cheesecake?

Yes. But if you do, the cheesecake will be much different than the silky smooth texture you’d expect of a Philly cheesecake or a New York style cheesecake. The texture will be a little bit more coarse, which is what separates a Italian cheesecake from the rest.

What is the difference between Italian and regular cheesecake?

An Italian cheesecake uses a blend of ricotta and mascarpone cheese, which creates a lighter, airier texture than we’re used to for American cheesecake. The ricotta also adds a subtle tang, making the whole dessert a bit more interesting. While the cake cools, a caramel-like glaze will naturally form on the top, creating the perfect sugary crust.

Stacked slices of Italian cheesecake on paper with forks and knife in front of freshly baked cake
After the first melt-in-your-mouth bite, this cheesecake won’t last long!

When you take a bite of this stunning masterpiece, you’ll get an amazing flavor reminiscent of creme brulee. Italian cheesecake cake simply melts in your mouth. It is a great change from the traditional cheesecake, especially after a heavy meal. Its richness pairs wonderfully with espresso, which can make for the most memorable dessert.

Why did my cheesecake come out like cottage cheese?

The most common reason for a lumpy cheesecake is that the eggs cook too quickly, probably because the ove is too hot. Make sure to follow the recipe and keep an eye on how quickly your cake is cooking. Keep in mind that every oven is different. If your oven seems to be cooking the cake too fast, lower the temperature by 25 degrees so that the cake has a chance to set up slowly.

Why is my Italian cheesecake grainy?

An Italian cheesecake can become grainy when the eggs are overcooked or when the cheesecake is cooked too fast. By cooking the cheesecake in a water bath and in an oven at a low temperature, you can avoid the grainy effect.

Why add sour cream to cheesecake? How about cream cheese?

Neither sour cream nor cream cheese are traditional in Italian cheesecake. However, by adding sour cream, you are adding a little extra certainty that your cake will not be dry. Sour cream makes the cake creamy and adds a bit of tartness. Cream cheese also achieves a similar effect. The high fat content of both of these ingredients gives the whole cake a solid foundation. They help ensure your cake won’t crack or fail to set.

Italian Cheesecake Recipe

Here is my recipe for Italian Cheesecake. Buon appetito!

Italian Cheesecake

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Course Dessert
Cuisine Italian

Ingredients
  

For the Crust

  • cup of Sandies shortbread cookie crumbs
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup ground almonds
  • 5 tbsp melted butter

For the Filling

  • 16 oz cream cheese, room temperature Try sour cream as a sub
  • 8 oz mascarpone cheese, room temperature
  • 8 oz ricotta cheese, drained
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp almond extract
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 325°F.
  • Prepare a 10-inch springform pan with nonstick baking spray and place parchment paper in the bottom of the pan. Wrap foil around the outside of the pan. This will keep the water bath from seeping into the pan.
  • In a medium bowl, combine the crust ingredients in a food processor and mix well. Using the bottom of a measuring cup, press the mixture into the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, mix cream cheese, ricotta cheese, mascarpone cheese, sugar, and flavorings together on low speed. Do not overmix.
  • Add eggs, one at a time, mixing slowly and scraping the sides after each additional egg. Pour batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly.
  • Place the pan covered in aluminum foil inside a roasting pan. Fill the roasting pan with water until the water is halfway up the sides of the springform pan.
  • Bake for 1 hour and 5 minutes. Then turn off the oven for about 45 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  • Remove cheesecake from the oven. Then remove the springform pan from the roasting pan and place the pan on a cooling rack. Allow the cheesecake to come to room temperature, then refrigerate for 5 hours or overnight.
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