This certainly is my most "famous" dessert of all time, as this creation came to be about 13 years ago, when I made this for my oldest son's birthday. Growing up, he had special needs, and each year I would surprise him with a very special cake for his birthday, so this particular year, I combined two of his very favorite desserts, Italian Cannoli's, and Creamy Cheesecake, into one scrumptious, mouthwatering and decadent dessert, and the look on his face...priceless! Not only has this been a hit with my family and friends, it has won recognition as a semi-finalist in a nationwide competition!
Notes from the Test Kitchen:
Whoa ... this is a really delicious cheesecake. You'll really notice the ricotta cheese in this one. Cannoli's are one of my favorite desserts at my local Italian restaurant and I loved the flavor the crushed shells added. It's pretty impressive!
crushed cannoli shells
unsweetened cocoa powder
8 ounces each, cream cheese, softened at room temperature
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line the bottom of a 9 inch spring form pan with aluminum foil and spray lightly with baking spray.
To make crust: Combine 1 cup crushed cannoli shells (use 6 large or 12 mini's to equal approximately 1 1/4 cups, crushed), 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder, 1 tablespoon sugar, and 1/4 cup melted butter. Pat into bottom of prepared pan. Set aside.
To make filling: In large mixer bowl, using paddle attachment, beat until smooth, 3 packages softened cream cheese, 1 1/2 cups, plus 2 tablespoons sugar, and 1/2 cup heavy cream. Add in eggs, orange zest, vanilla and ricotta. Mix until well incorporated. Fold in chocolate chips. Pour batter over crust in prepared pan, and bake for approximately 60-70 minutes ( oven temperatures may vary), until filling is set.
Cool to room temperature, then chill in refrigerator at least 2 hours or overnight.
Before serving, remove sides from pan, and peel off aluminum foil from bottom and place cheesecake on serving platter or cake plate, Garnish with remaining 1/4 cup crushed cannoli shells,1/4 cups mini chocolate chips, 1/4 cup sifted powdered sugar, and additional orange zest, if desired. Store in refrigerator.