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I love cheesecake (except for the heft that you expect from many versions) and I love pie (except we're still in a fruit drought at the moment, rhubarb excepted). So you can imagine how exciting it is for me to bring the two together into one glorious dessert that solves both problems.
Cheesecake can be lightened two ways: by changing the crust from leaden grahams and butter to a classic, flaky pie shell, and by swapping some of the cream cheese for ricotta. These modifications, combined with the fact that a pie is not so dramatically big and tall, create a lovely, tangy, fluffy wedge upon which to drip and drizzle any fruit compote or coulis that you desire. This time of year, frozen fruit or fresh rhubarb makes the perfect topping. In this awkward season where the rhubarb's been kickin' but strawberries are still weeks away, I opted for a bit of both.
When making this cheesecake, don't forget to drain off some of the excess liquid from the ricotta cheese through a double layer of cheesecloth before adding it to your mixing bowl. Forgetting to do so will result in a cheesecake full of weepy pockets, rather than the desired airy filling. Once you've done that, the rest is straightforward. The toughest part: deciding what kind of fruit to use for a topping. It works well with absolutely everything!
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About the author: Lauren Weisenthal has logged many hours working in restaurant kitchens and bakeries of Brooklyn and Manhattan. She is a graduate of the Artisan Bread Baking and Pastry Arts programs at the French Culinary Institute. You can follow her on Twitter at @evillagekitchen.