When I stumbled across a recipe for orange ricotta cheesecake that called for orange marmalade, I suddenly remembered that I had a jar in the fridge. I had no idea why I had it. I don't even like orange marmalade.
But there was this Costco-size jar on the top shelf holding court over the canned foie gras, tomato bruschetta, and chili-garlic sauce. The octagonal glass vessel boasting a crisp, white label with black cursive writing was clearly an interloper in my refrigerator otherwise organized by logic and taste. But the idea that I could transform it into a delicious cake gave me a shiver of satisfaction.
I grabbed the over-sized jar and scooped out 1/3 cup of the thick, orange jam; blended it with the ricotta, eggs, and sugar in a Cuisinart; added the rum, flour, and zest; and then baked it in a springform pan.
The cake turned out to be so tasty that I ate it four nights in a row. I marvel at how the jar of marmalade, once an uninvited ingredient, has become a welcomed, even essential, addition to my kitchen.
Orange Ricotta Cheesecake with BerriesServes 6- 8
Adapted from "Cooking One on One," by John Ash,
2-1/2 pounds whole milk ricotta
5 whole eggs
1/3 cup orange marmalade
1/4 cup dark rum
1/3 cup cake flour or all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons finely grated orange zest
1 pint fresh mixed berries
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Lightly butter and flour an 8-inch springform pan. Combine the ricotta, eggs, sugar, and marmalade in a food processor, and process until the mixture is smooth. Add the rum, flour, and zest, and process again in short bursts until smooth.
Pour the mixture into the pan and bake for one hour. The center will still be soft at this point. Turn the oven off and leave the cake in the oven with the door very slightly ajar for about 20 minutes. Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool completely. Refrigerate the cake for at least two hours before serving.
Remove the cake from the refrigerator and let it return to room temperature. Meanwhile, wash and slice the berries. Toss them gently with the sugar and orange juice and set aside.
To serve, remove the sides from the pan and slice the cake. Serve each piece with some berries on top or on the side.