Waking up to a soft, drizzling rain yesterday was an invitation to bake. Like most of you, I have been avoiding my oven and any kind of real cooking at all. Instead, we subsist on the simplest of summer meals: tomato sandwiches, bowls of berries topped with Greek yogurt, slices of intensely ripe Tuscan melon, and everything else thrown on the grill.
But the rain was comforting and chilling, and I longed to turn on my oven. I needed to bake a Ricotta Cheesecake. After all, I had friends coming for dinner, and there was a big batch of homemade raw milk ricotta setting up in the fridge, begging to be turned into something wonderful.
I wanted to make a ricotta cheesecake reminiscent of the cannoli my grandmother used to make, and the ones I had tasted in Palermo, Sicily. Cannoli–crispy fritters stuffed with sweet ricotta and candied orange, the ends sprinkled with tiny chocolate chips–are said to have originated in central Sicily where my grandparents were born. Nonna always came to visit toting a box of freshly made cannoli stuffed with homemade ricotta.