In New York, the Jews of the Lower East Side lived near Little Italy. This hybrid of a cheesecake and a cannoli was one result. It can be made with any soft white cheese that is not salty -- cream cheese or Neufchatel cheese will make it more like a cheesecake; Israeli 4% will be quite similar to the part-skim ricotta I usually use; farmer cheese makes a drier and more delicate confection.
Graham Cracker Crust
You can use a pre-made crust, but this one is better and almost as easy.
- 20 squares graham crackers (1 package) (or 12 rounds/200g Gullon or a similar brand)
- 4 Tbs melted butter
- Fold a piece of waxed paper around graham crackers and crush them with a rolling pin, or grind graham crackers in food processor.
- Mix with melted butter.
- Press, hard, into a buttered 9 or 10 inch pie pan.
- Cover and cool in fridge or freezer, preferably at least one hour.
- You can make the pie crust several days in advance; keep it covered in the freezer or refrigerator.
- 1 pound or 2 cups ricotta or other soft white cheese (Israeli 4%, farmer, cream or Neufchatel)
- 5 oz or 1/3 cup pistachios
- 3 oz or 1/4 cup chocolate bits, chopped dates or candied ginger
- 2 tsp Grand Marnier or Cointreau
- 1 tsp vanilla
- seeds from 3-4 cardamom pods, crushed
- 1/4 - 1/3 cup confectioner's sugar
- Chop pistachios, chocolate and fruit (separately). Pulsing in the food processor works fine for the pistachios, but a large knife is better for the chocolate: you want fairly large pieces, not powder. Don't over-chop your chocolate or the pie will turn a less-attractive brown color.
- Reserve smallest pistachio pieces and any pulverized chocolate for topping.
- With a fork, mix cheese, liqueur, vanilla and cardamom. This will give a more interesting texture and taste than beating or whipping the cheese.
- Mix in chopped pistachios, chocolate pieces (but not powder) and/or fruit.
- Add sugar, tasting, until it is a little less sweet than you like. The pie is best when it is not too sweet, so that the chocolate bits amd pistachios provide little zings of flavor when you bite into them.
- This filling will keep for several days, tightly covered in the refrigerator; if the top oxides, mix it well before proceeding.
- Pour filling into cooled pie crust. Top with reserved chocolate and pistachios and a sprinkling of confectioner's sugar.
- Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve, preferably the same day.
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