This recipe is adapted from two renaissance manuscripts, Digby and Platina, which describe cheesecakes based on soft cheese. I specifically wanted a ginger-lover's cheesecake. I also wanted to skip the lard called for in one of the historical sources.
Yield: 2 pies
- 0.75 pound fresh ginger root
- 3 pounds ricotta cheese
- 8 (US) large eggs, beaten
- 0.5 pound butter, softened
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 9" shortbread crusts (I bought this)
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Make crystalized ginger pieces from the ginger, cut small. (See note below.)
Combine cheese, eggs, butter, and sugar until well-mixed. Add ginger and stir to distribute.
Pour into crusts, or for a gluten-free alternative, directly into a greased 9" cake pan. (When I made this I did one of each because I was serving a mixed group.)
Bake for 45 minutes. Cover the edges of the crust with foil to prevent burning, then return to the oven for another 15 minutes until the filling is firm.
Making the crystalized ginger
To make the ginger: peel the ginger root and then chop into pieces no more than a quarter-inch thick. (They can be longer and wider; we're not aiming for "dice". But don't make thick chunks.) Add water to cover and cook on medium-high heat, covered, for about half an hour until the ginger is tender. Meanwhile, apply cooking spray to a cookie sheet.
Strain the ginger (reserving liquid). Put ginger and an equal weight of sugar back into the pot and add about half a cup of the reserved liquid. Stir frequently over medium-high heat until the water evaporates and the ginger is coated. If the sugar starts to caramelize, reduce the heat.
Spread the ginger on the cookie sheet, breaking up clumps, and let it cool.
Meanwhile, if you have other uses for ginger syrup, take the rest of the reserved water, add some sugar (I totally winged this, but maybe half as much as the water by volume), and cook it over medium heat, stirring often, until it reduces to a syrup.