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A lighter take on cheesecake

Diane Rossen Worthington
Tribune Content Agency

I have never been a cheesecake lover. As a result, I have only a few in my culinary repertoire. The main ingredient in most cheesecakes is cream cheese, which makes them rich and luxurious, but pretty heavy.

Enter this light cake perfumed with vanilla and lemon zest, and made with ricotta that is plenty creamy, but cooks up light in texture. Seriously simple to put together, this is more a cake, since it doesn’t have a crust. But when I tested this, I discovered that the middle may be a little creamy if you bake it for 55 minutes. At 60 minutes the texture of the cake is evenly baked throughout. I actually like bit of creaminess in the center, but that’s up to you.

Frozen blueberries cook beautifully in the cake and retain their texture. The blueberry sauce is a lovely complement to the lemony ricotta cake flavor. One of the distinguishing characteristics of this cake is that the texture changes when it is served either warm, at room temperature or chilled. So have fun and try out different temperatures to see what you like best. If serving it chilled, accompany with room temperature blueberry sauce. You can make up the cake and sauce up to two days ahead of serving.

Ricotta Blueberry Cake

For the cake

Baking spray (oil and flour)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose or cake flour

1 cup sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

3 extra-large eggs

1 1/2 cups whole milk ricotta cheese

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Zest of 1 lemon

1 1/4 cups frozen blueberries

Confectioners’ sugar, for garnish

For the blueberry sauce

12-ounce bag frozen blueberries

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8-inch springform to evenly coat the bottom and sides. Sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Reserve.

Melt the butter in a small bowl in the microwave for 1 minute or in a double boiler over medium heat. Reserve.

In a medium bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed, whip the eggs, ricotta, vanilla and lemon zest until well blended. Alternate the flour ingredients with the melted butter until the ingredients are incorporated and the batter is smooth. With a rubber spatula, fold in 3/4 cup blueberries, taking care to keep the berries whole. Arrange the remaining 1/2 cup on the top of the cake and push down into the batter with your hand.

Bake for 55 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out almost clean. Let rest for 20 minutes on a baking rack

Meanwhile, make the warm blueberry sauce: Place the blueberries, brown sugar and butter in a saucepan and mix to combine. Cook on medium heat until the blueberries begin to burst and the juice is syrupy, about 10 minutes. Let cool for about 10 minutes.

When ready to serve, unmold the springform onto a serving platter. Sprinkle the top with confectioners’ sugar. Serve warm, at room temperature or cold. Serve the blueberry sauce on the side. Serves 10.

Per serving: 379 calories; 18 g fat (11 g saturated fat; 43 percent calories from fat); 47 g carbohydrates; 29 g sugar; 105 mg cholesterol; 245 mg sodium; 8 g protein; 2 g fiber.