Rich and creamy this Chocolate Sicilian Cheesecake is made with both ricotta and mascarpone cheeses. The perfect ending to your favourite Italian meal or an indulgent treat all on its own!
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No need to take that trip to Italy to taste the wonders of this amazing Chocolate Sicilian Cheesecake. A typical Sicilian cheesecake is not chocolate but instead infused with citrus flavours but given that I am a huge chocolate fan Chocolate Sicilian Cheesecake was the way to go!
And to inch this tasty Italian dessert further in the chocolate direction this chocolate ricotta cheesecake comes with a chocolate cookie and almond flour crust!
What Makes Sicilian Cheesecake Different Then Regular Cheesecake?
Sicilian cheesecake is made with full-fat ricotta cheese and mascarpone cheese rather than cream cheese used in regular cheesecakes. Italian ricotta cheesecakes tend to be lighter, drier and a little less cloyingly sweet than regular cheesecakes that use cream cheese.
Since ricotta cheese is used they can also be slightly grainer and less smooth than a regular cheesecake but I find that the addition of mascarpone improves the creaminess of the texture as well as adds a subtle richness to the cake.
Normally you would not see fruit used in a Sicilian Ricotta Cheesecake Recipe and you totally don’t need to add any but the fruit is a great way of disguising mistakes… more on that later!
Ingredients & Substitutions
- Chocolate cookie crumbs – Or you can crush up some oreo cookies in a blender. If you go this route leave out the added sugar for the crust because the oreo centres will make the crust sweet enough. If you want to avoid sugar all together you can replace the chocolate cookie crumbs almond flour instead.
- Almond flour – Adds a hint of nuttiness to the crust.
- Unsalted butter – The glue that holds the crust together
- Salt – A flavour enhancer to bring out the chocolately flavour
- Full fat ricotta cheese – Don’t substitute for the lower fat version and if your store has it go with the smooth variety so that it is easier to cream. The full fat is needed to get a smooth and non-gritty texture.
- Mascarpone cheese – Adds richness and creaminess to the cake.
- Eggs – Gives the cheesecake a smooth, creamy custard like texture.
- Vanilla – Because I dare you to name one baked good without vanilla in it.
- Stevia – I used stevia because I like to keep my calories low and in a cheesecake you would never notice but if you aren’t a fan of stevia you can easily replace with finely ground coconut or cane sugar or the sweetener of your choice. Just make sure that the texture of the sugar is fine. You can achieve this by giving your sugar a quick whirl in a spice or coffee grinder. If the grain of the sugar is too large the cheesecake make be a little grainy.
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- Espresso Powder – Add depth the the chocolate in this cheesecake.
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how To Make Chocolate Sicilian Cheesecake
In a medium-sized bowl add in the chocolate cookie crumbs, almond flour, salt and melted butter. Mix well until all of the crumbs are moistened by the butter.
Lightly grease a 9″ springform pan. If you are planning to “water-bathe” your cheesecake enclose the bottom of your pan in two layers of aluminum foil to seal the bottom so water can’t get in. I will explain more about this later.
Add the cookie crumbs to the bottom of the pan and press the crusty gently using your fingers or the bottom of a small measuring cup. Ensure the crust is even and all the way to the edges along the bottom of the pan.
Bake the crust at 325°F for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.
Making the Italian Ricotta Cheesecake Filling
In a large bowl add the ricotta cheese and mascarpone cheese. Using a hand mixer beat on high until it is creamy. Add in the sugar continue to mix just until combined.
Then one at a time add in each egg and/or egg yolk. Beat for as little as possible but long enough to mix each egg in before adding the next. A few seconds will do.
If you blend the eggs in for longer than necessary too much air will be added to the filling which may result in the cheesecake cracking while baking.
Once the eggs are in add the vanilla and Cacao Bliss. Mix just until combined.
Pour the chocolate ricotta cheesecake filling over top of the cooled chocolate cookie crust. Using a spatula, spread the filling out evenly to the edges of the pan.
Bake in the oven for 1 hour and 20 minutes at 325°F or until the centre of the cake is still jiggly but not wet. If the cake starts to crack on the edges it is overcooked. The cheesecake centre will look undercooked and wobble but that is perfect. The cake will continue to cook while it cools.
Since the filling of this cake has a number of eggs in it to create a custard-like filling, overbaking will also result in a grittier texture. As the eggs overcook they firm up and then seize which causes them to basically shrivel up, crack your cake and turn into hard, gritty little granules.
When the cake looks done or rather slightly underdone, turn the oven off, crack open the door halfway and let the cake cool in the oven for about 30 minutes.
Then transfer to the counter for another 60 minutes before letting it cool completely in the fridge covered for a minimum of 6 hours, overnight being ideal.
Slowly lowering the temperature of the cake vs taking it out of the oven and straight to the fridge is another way to reduce the chances of cracking. When you are ready to serve use a spatula to run it around the edges of the cake to help separate it form the pan and then remove the ring.
So I bet at this point you may be asking yourself what’s with all this “cracking” nonsense.
Yes, you absolutely can do this and if you look at my pictures, I totally cracked this cake this time and it still tastes and looks fabulous! All is not lost if you make a mistake!
reasons why A cheesecake May Crack While Baking
A cheesecake that cracks may not be the prettiest but almost all of the time it tastes perfectly fine and you can find creative ways to hide the mistake. In the end… it will taste magnificent regardless!
Here are some reasons why your cheesecake may be cracking:
- The oven is too dry
- The filling was overmixed adding too much air inside the batter. Eggs hold air so when you over mix and then bake the air in the eggs will cause the filling to rise and crack.
- drafts and temperature changes – avoid opening the door while it is cooking and gradually cool the cake down before placing it in the fridge.
- Not using a springform pan… good luck getting the cheesecake out of the pan without one.
- Overbaking – the cake should look undercooked and jiggly in the centre, about 2-3 inches in diameter, when the cheesecake is done baking but not wet. And the edges will also have puffed up a bit.
How to give your Cheesecake A Water Bath and Why?
Baked cheesecakes have a custard-like texture that is created often using a number of eggs. And eggs like moisture. When they dry out they often seize shrinking and causing cracks as well as often causing a grainy texture.
Making steam created from a water bath adds moisture to the oven environment allowing the cake to gently raise and lower as it bakes which helps to avoid the dry of the eggs and cracking on the surface.
How to Make a Water bath for Cheesecake
There are two methods… I prefer the second method best.
traditional water bath method
Wrap the bottom of your springform pan with aluminum foil and up the sides. Then repeat with the second layer of aluminum foil. This will create a seal to keep water from leaking in.
Place the sealed springform pan in a large metal roasting pan and then fill it with the cheesecake filling. Add about 1 inch of boiling water to the roasting pan carefully without splashing inside the cheesecake. Then place it in the oven to bake as per the recipe instructions.
Alternative water bath method
Fill the springform pan with the filling. No need to seal with foil.
Fill a roasting pan with 1″ of boiling water. Place the filled metal roasting pan on the bottom rack of the preheated oven directly below the cheesecake rack. Place the cheesecake on the rack above. Close the door to trap the steam from the boiling water and bake according to the recipe instructions.
I prefer this method because I always worry somehow water might leak in even if I have created a seal with the foil.
How to Camoflauge a Cracked Cheesecake
It happens to the best of us. One minute we see the cake becoming close to done, the phone rings or our kids have one of a million questions and BOOM… you’ve overdone it!
Not to worry you can hide this no problem by making it look prettier! Win-Win!
The first way is to fill in the cracks with whipped cream. Kind of like cheesecake spackle. For this chocolate Sicilian cheesecake, I combined about a cup of Cool Whip whipped cream with a 1/4 cup Cacao Bliss to make a cacao whip and then used a spatula to gently spread over the top of the chocolate mascarpone cheesecake to make it smooth.
You can use this method for a traditional white or vanilla cheesecake as well just use plain whipped cream.
The colour may not match exactly so I then like to sprinkle either powdered sugar or cacao powder over top. This created a uniform surface to the cheesecake.
Then if you wish you can add a layer of fruit to the top of the cheesecake as well. This covers bigger boo-boos or is a solution for those who don’t wish to use the whip cream spackle method.
Storing Italian Ricotta Cheesecake
This cheesecake is best stored in the fridge covered loosely with plastic wrap or foil for up to a week.
You can also freeze this cheesecake by wrapping it tightly with plastic wrap and then a layer of foil. Freeze for up to a month and thaw overnight in the fridge before serving. I don’t recommend freezing with any fruit added to the top. Freeze only as baked without any fruit or masking. Add this after it has thawed and is ready to serve.
If you Liked This Recipe You May Also Enjoy….
Chocolate Sicilian Cheesecake
- 1 1/2 cup chocolate cookie crumbs
- 1/4 cup almond flour
- 1/3 cup unsalted butter melted
- 2 tbsp stevia
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 32 oz full fat ricotta Cheese 2 containers
- 16 oz mascarpone Cheese 1 container
- 6 eggs
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups stevia or finely ground can or golden sugar
- 3/4 cup Cacao Bliss plus 2 tbsp for dusting if desired
- 1/2 tsp instant espresso powder
- Preheat the oven to 325° F. In a large bowl add the chocolate cookie crumbs, almond flour, salt, sugar and melted butter. Mix to blend evenly so that all the crumbs are moistened with the butter.
- Lightly grease a 9" springform pan. Add the chocolate cookie mixture to the bottom of the prepared springform pan gently pressing the cookie crumbs into the base of the pan so that the bottom is level, even and to the edges of the pan bottom. You can also use the bottom of a small measuring cup to do this.
- Bake the cookie crust for 10 minutes. Once done, remove from the oven and let cool.
- Add the ricotta, mascarpone and stevia to a large bowl and using a hand mixer beat the ingredients until smooth and creamy.
- Add the eggs and egg yolks to the cheese mixture one at a time mixing mixing with the hand mixer only until the egg is mixed in… a few seconds per egg will do.
- Add in the Cacao Bliss, vanilla and espresso powder and again mix only until combined.
- Pour the filling into the springform pan and spread evenly over the cookie crust.
- Fill a metal roasting pan with about 1" deep of boiling water. Place this on the bottom rack of the oven. Then place the cheesecake on the rack above and close the door immediately. Or if you wish when preparing your cheesecake pan seal the bottom edge of the cheesecake pan and halfway up the sides of the pan with two layers of tightly wrapped aluminium foil. Then place the sealed cheesecake in a metal roasting pan filled with 1" deep of warm water. Either method is considered a water bath. See the full post for more details on this.
- Bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes or until the edges of the cheesecake are beginning to puff up and 2-3" area in the centre is no longer wet but still appears jiggly. To avoid cracking remove the cheesecake from the oven when it appears still a little undercooked and before it starts to form cracks.
- When done baking turn off the oven and keep the Sicilian cheesecake in the oven cracking the door for about an hour to let the cake slowly cool inside the oven.
- Then transfer the cheesecake to the fridge and let cool completely for at least 6 hours but preferably overnight before serving.
- When ready to serve, run a spatula around the edge of the cake to separate it from pan. Then unhinge the pan and remove the ring.
- Serve with a dusting of Cacao Bliss and/or fresh fruit. Enjoy!
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For the step-by-step version of this recipe, check out the How To Make a Baked Chocolate Sicilian Cheesecake Story.