This is my version of the Olive Garden Sicilian Cheesecake! This cheesecake is made from ricotta cheese, which makes it much lighter then a cheesecake made from cream cheese. It also has a shortbread crust and a topping of strawberry sauce.
Preheat oven to 325°F (163°C). Grease the sides of a 9 inch springform pan, and line the bottom with parchment paper. Leave a bit of parchment paper hanging out the sides, so the cheesecake can be removed easily.
In a small bowl, combine shortbread cookie crumbs and melted butter. Stir to combine, and then press the crust ingredients into the bottom and up the sides of the prepared pan.
Bake for 10 minutes and then set the pan on a wired rack so the crust can cool while you make the filling.
Reduce oven temperature to 300°F (148°C).
In a large bowl, mix ricotta cheese, sugar and flour until combined. Stir in cinnamon and vanilla extract.
Mix in eggs one at a time. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed, to make sure everything is incorporated.
Pour the batter into the prepared crust. Line the outside of the springform pan with aluminum foil. Then cover the outside of the springform pan with a crock pot liner. A chicken bag liner works well too.
Place the springform pan into a larger pan, and fill the outside pan with enough water to go about halfway up the sides of the springform pan.
Bake the cheesecake for 1 hour and 50 minutes, or until the sides are set and the center is a bit jiggly when moved.
Turn off the oven and leave the cheesecake in the oven with the oven door closed for 30 minutes.
Crack open oven door and leave the cheesecake in the oven for another 30 minutes. This slow cooling process helps prevent cracks.
Remove the cheesecake from the oven and remove the springform pan from the water bath. Remove the crock pot liner and aluminum foil. Leave the cheesecake in the springform pan. Cover and store the cheesecake in the refrigerator for 6 hours or overnight.
Puree half the amount of strawberries in a food processor or blender.
Combine the sugar and cornstarch in a small saucepan. Stir in pureed strawberries and water.
Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until it comes to a boil. Allow it to boil for 1 minute and then remove from heat. Cool completely.
Remove the cheesecake from the springform pan and set it on a cake stand.
Slice the remaining strawberries. Pour strawberry sauce over top of the cheesecake, and decorate with strawberries.
Store the cheesecake in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Line your parchment paper so that it hangs outside of your springform pan. It is way easier to lift out the cheesecake this way.
Bake the cheesecake in a water bath to prevent cracks. it's an extra step, but so worth it!
Give yourself time! This cheesecake bakes for 1 hour and 50 minutes. Then it needs to slowly cool in the oven with the oven turned off for another hour.
You can use frozen strawberries for the sauce, but use fresh strawberries for decoration. Make sure to thaw frozen strawberries before use.