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No-Bake Cannoli Cheesecake

Jessie Sheehan
Cook Time:
6 hrs
Prep Time:
15 mins
Servings:
16
RATE THIS RECIPE
(95)

Chef notes

A cannoli is a classic Italian pastry. With its crispy shell and creamy, cool, slightly sweet ricotta filling, it checks all the boxes of a delicious dessert (particularly when a little chocolate is added). Here, I have taken everything that everyone loves in a cannoli (including the not-always-traditional, but always welcome pistachio) and created a no-bake cannoli-inspired cheesecake. Not only does the filling set up solely in the refrigerator, but the crust is no-bake as well. A little stint in the freezer while you prepare the filling is all the crust needs to provide a sturdy base for the filling. Often no-bake cheesecakes require gelatin, which can be a tad fussy. Here, we avoid it by adding cream cheese to the filling, which ensures that the cake sets up properly in the refrigerator and slices beautifully come serving time. 

Orange zest and cinnamon give the cake loads of Italian pastry vibes — and the orange zest adds wonderful flecks of bright color, as do the mini chocolate chips, which are used in the batter and as a garnish, along with the aforementioned pistachios. Use salted and roasted if you can find them, as the savory, crunchy contrast of the nuts to the soft, sweet filling, is not to be missed. The crust itself is a nod to the cannoli shell. It is a wonderful supporting player to the filling’s starring role in the cake without being overwhelming. However, if you would rather pair the filling with a graham cracker crumb crust, or even a chocolate wafer crumb crust, by all means do so. Finally, ricotta cheese can be a tad grainy — this is normal — and if your filling is not completely smooth when you pour it over the prepared crust, don’t be alarmed. Once the cake sets up and is sliced you won’t notice. 

Technique Tip: Make sure your cream cheese is at room temperature or it will be lumpy once you begin to beat it. And while beating, keep the mixer on medium to medium-low speed to ensure that you don’t overbeat it. Otherwise, the cake’s filling will lose structure and won’t set up properly. The ricotta should also be at room temperature, so it can easily combine with the cream cheese.

When removing the cake from the pan, parchment paper is your friend. The sides should pop off easily, and then you can peel away the paper. To remove the cake from the pan’s metal bottom, stick a long serrated knife between the paper and the cake to release it from the pan and then gently nudge and lift the cake, using the knife, onto a serving plate.

Swap Option: You can use graham crackers or chocolate wafer cookies - which would be so pretty and delicious - instead of the vanilla. You can use unsalted nuts, instead of the roasted and salted called for here, but I like the contrasting flavors. You can also use lemon zest, instead of the orange, or leave out the zest entirely.

 

Ingredients

Vanilla Wafer Crust
  • cups finely ground vanilla wafers
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Ricotta Filling
  • 24 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 16 ounces full-fat ricotta cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup mini chocolate chips, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1/3 cup shelled roasted and salted pistachios, chopped, for sprinkling
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Preparation

1.

Grease the sides and bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray or softened butter. Line the bottom and sides with parchment paper.

2.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the finely ground cookies, sugar and melted butter with a flexible spatula or your hands. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan and press it evenly into the bottom of the pan, using a measuring cup or your fingers. Place in the freezer while you assemble the filling.

3.

Place the cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, and beat on medium-low until smooth, scraping the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the vanilla, zest, cinnamon and salt and beat until combined. Add the ricotta and powdered sugar and beat until the mixture is thick and uniform. Fold in the chocolate chips.

4.

Transfer the filling to the prepared crust, smoothing the top with an offset spatula or butter knife. Sprinkle with the pistachios and additional chocolate chips. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 hours, but preferably overnight.

5.

When ready to serve, remove the sides and bottom of the pan. Place the cake on a serving plate and slice into wedges. The cake will keep for 3 days in the refrigerator if tightly wrapped.

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