Orange blossom is a flavour that polarises: either you love it or you can’t stand it. For me, it brings a delicate, floral lightness to desserts, especially really creamy ones such as cheesecakes, but I understand that a heavy hand can turn things a little sickly – medicinal, even. The strength of orange blossom water varies between brands, so start with one tablespoon, taste and work your way up from there.
Orange blossom, ricotta and walnut cheesecake
Prep 20 min
Cook 95 min
Chill 4 hr+
For the base
80g unsalted butter, melted
For the filling
500g ricotta, at room temperature
340g cream cheese, at room temperature
200g caster sugar
Zest of 1 orange
1½ tbsp orange blossom water
A pinch of salt
3 large eggs
For the topping
Juice of 1 orange
1 tsp orange blossom water (add more to taste)
1 tsp vanilla extract, or vanilla bean pasteHeat the oven to 180C (160 fan)/350F/gas 4. Line the base of a 20cm springform or loose-bottomed cake tin and lightly grease the sides.
Put the walnuts in a large saucepan and toast on medium-high heat, shaking frequently, until they start to brown and smell nutty. Tip the digestives and 50g of the walnuts into a food processor (save the rest of the nuts for the topping). Blitz until fine, then pour into a bowl and stir in the melted butter, coating the crumbs evenly. Tip into the base of the lined cake tin, pressing down firmly, then bake for 10 minutes.
Remove from the oven and set aside. Once cool, wrap the tin tightly in two layers of strong tinfoil, making sure it comes up the sides of the tin.
To make the filling, whip the ricotta in a food processor or with an electric whisk until smooth and creamy. Add the cream cheese, sugar and orange zest, beating again until combined, then stir in the orange blossom water and salt. Add the eggs, mix until just incorporated, then pour the batter over the biscuit base in the tin.
Put the tin in a large, deep roasting tray and fill with hot water to come roughly halfway up the sides. Bake for 60-70 minutes, until the edges are set but there is still a slight jiggle in the middle. Turn off the oven, and leave to cool inside it for about an hour with the door ajar.
Once cool, chill in the fridge for at least four hours, or overnight.
Meanwhile, make the topping. Put all the ingredients in a small saucepan, bring to boil, then leave to bubble for two to three minutes, until it looks syrupy. Roughly chop the remaining 100g toasted walnuts. Take the pan off the heat and stir in the walnuts so they’re evenly coated.
Decorate the chilled cheesecake with the topping, slice and serve.
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