‘It’s beginning to look alot like Christmas……’
Pomegranates. A sign that Christmas is here! I love seeing that beautiful ruby red pile of pomegranates at the market this time of year. These little jewels are well worth the effort of prying them from their pearly white surround. We won’t even mention how wonderfully full of antioxidants these beautiful fruits are. Prosecco with little festive pomegranate seeds floating at the top has become my signature holiday cocktail. And what better combination than pomegranates AND limoncello! Sort of like an early Christmas in Capri!
This recipe is an adaptation of a Giada recipe on www.foodnetwork.com. These yummy limoncello cheesecake squares are wonderful on their own even without the pomegranate syrup addition. (Try not to drink too much limoncello while making.) I was off to a holiday party and spotted the pile of pomegranates on my kitchen counter and thought a pomegranate syrup would add a nice festive touch. The crunch of the little pomegrante pearls marries well with the creamy limoncello cheesecake. Super easy recipe and great do-ahead for a party. Happy Holidays!
Limoncello Cheesecake Squares with Pomegranate Syrup
(Cheesecake Squares Recipe from Food Network; courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis)
For the Limoncello Cheesecake Squares:
Nonstick cooking spray
8 ounces biscotti, purchased or homemade (I used lemon biscotti that I found at the Italian market)
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted
3 tablespoons grated lemon zest, divided
1 (12-ounce) container fresh whole milk ricotta, drained, at room temperature
2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup limoncello liqueur
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 large eggs, at room temperature
For the pomegranate syrup:
2 cups pomegranate juice
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Make the cheesecake squares:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray the bottom of a 9 by 9 by 2-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Finely grind the biscotti in a food processor. Add the melted butter and 1 tablespoon of lemon zest, and process until the crumbs are moistened. Press the crumb mixture over the bottom (not the sides) of the prepared pan. Bake until the crust is golden, about 15 minutes. Cool the crust completely on a cooling rack.
Blend the ricotta in a clean food processor until smooth. Add the cream cheese and sugar and blend well, stopping the machine occasionally and scraping down the sides of the work bowl. Blend in the limoncello, vanilla, and remaining 2 tablespoons of lemon zest. Add the eggs one at a time, and pulse just until blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
Pour the cheese mixture over the crust in the pan. Place the baking pan in a large roasting pan. Pour enough hot water into the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the baking pan. Bake until the cheesecake is golden and the center of the cake moves slightly when the pan is gently shaken, about 1 hour (the cake will become firm when it is cold).
Transfer the cake to a rack; cool 1 hour. Refrigerate until the cheesecake is cold, at least 8 hours and up to 2 days.
Make the pomegranate syrup:
Put the pomegranate juice, sugar and lemon juice in a small saucepan over moderate high heat. Stir until sugar is fully dissolved. Lower heat to medium-low and simmer until reduced to about 1/2 cup – about 30-40 minutes. Juice will now be the consistency of syrup. Cool to room temperature.
Seed the pomegranate. (Yes, I know it is alot of work but so worth the prize inside! Savor some limoncello while seeding….) Cut the cheesecake into squares and plate. Drizzle the pomegranate syrup over the cheesecake squares and sprinkle with the pomegranate seeds. Walaa!
Serve and enjoy….