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Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM

Pastry chef Kim Schwenke showed us that making ricotta from scratch couldn’t be easier, and it puts the commercial stuff to shame. While you’re at it, use the fresh, warm ricotta to make Schwenke’s elegant, tangy cheesecake.


3 cups whole milk

3 cups heavy cream

3 tablespoons white vinegar

Bring milk and cream to boil. Add vinegar just as mixture boils and starts to rise in the pot. After a quick stir, turn off heat and let rest for 5 minutes to let the curds solidify.

Line a colander with a double layer of cheesecloth. Place colander inside of a larger bowl. Ladle mixture into lined colander. Let sit for 20 minutes to strain as much excess liquid as possible.

Fresh ricotta will keep refrigerated for up to 2 days. Or, use it right away for the cheesecake recipe below.

Nutrition facts per 1 tablespoon: 42 calories, 4 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 14 mg cholesterol, 1 g carbohydrates, 1 g protein, 11 mg sodium, 0 g fiber



2 cups homemade ricotta

1/2 cup mascarpone

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon vanilla extract, rum or brandy

2 teaspoons cornstarch

2 eggs, room temperature

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Use pan spray to grease a (9-inch) cake pan or 6 (4-ounce) ramekins. Coat inside of pan or ramekins with a fine layer of granulated sugar. (If using cake pan, line bottom with a circle of parchment paper first, spray again, then coat with sugar).

Combine just-made ricotta, mascarpone, sugar, salt, extract and cornstarch in bowl. Whisk until smooth. Add eggs and whisk again until completely smooth. (An immersion hand blender is handy for this. While mixing, be careful to keep the blender fully submerged. If you lift it up, you will get air bubbles and it will not bake as nicely.)

Pour batter into prepared pan. Place pan into larger roasting pan or baking dish. Create a water bath by pouring enough water into the larger pan to reach halfway up sides of cake pan.

Bake until the top of cheesecake does not jiggle when you hit the side of the baking pan, about 20 minutes for ramekins and 40 to 55 minutes for cake pan. Let cool on the countertop for 10 to 20 minutes, then place in the refrigerator to cool completely.

When ready to serve, run a paring knife around the edge of the cheesecake and invert onto a serving platter.

Kim Schwenke, 312 Chicago(Ran March 10)

Nutrition facts per serving: 170 calories, 9 g fat, 5 g saturated fat, 94 mg cholesterol, 19 g carbohydrates, 3 g protein, 475 mg sodium, 0 g fiber

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