Recipe: Italian Cheesecake

“Mom, quick, I need a photo for my blog.”

Merry Christmas! This recipe is an old family favorite, handed down by my Great Grandmother Margaret. Actually, her name was Immaculata, but my Great Grandfather decided he preferred the name Margaret. I’m happy the name change happened before my birth since I was named after her. Immaculata Reyes Dempsey just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

Grandma Margaret was quite the cook and took the handing down of the recipes seriously, apparently. My Mom had just arrived home from her honeymoon in 1964 when Grandma showed up to teach her how to make this cheesecake. The quickest way to a man’s heart… 😉

Originally, she made it at Easter time and it featured a crust and criss-cross strips across the top. However, none of us has been able to recreate Grandma’s tender touch with the dough required for that top. What should have been elevated train tracks over a ricotta cheese filling always ended up as a cheese cake with subway tracks below. However, being a gambling family, we had many a fun time peering through the oven window and wagering on just when those strips would begin sinking into the cheesecake. 🙂

Never fear, we’ve been making this version, sans subway tracks, for 46 years and for all occasions. It will be one of the two dozen desserts on our Christmas table, and it’s always a winner. Hope you enjoy it.


For best results, have ingredients at room temperature.
Preheat oven to 550 degrees.


1 dozen large eggs
1 – 48 oz. container ricotta
1 1/4 c. sugar
1 tbsp. each extract: vanilla, orange, lemon
1 tsp. anisette  


  1. Beat eggs until foamy and set aside.
  2. Beat ricotta with sugar until blended and add 4 flavors – beating until thoroughly mixed.
  3. Pour eggs into ricotta mixture and beat just until blended.
  4. Put mixture into a 2 1/2 qt. Pyrex dish or springform pan. (We prefer Pyrex.)
  5. Place in oven, and lower temperature to 325 degrees.
  6. Bake about 1 1/2 hours or until top seems firm except for center, which should be slightly soft.
  7. Leave cake in oven with door slightly ajar for about 1/2 hour after turning the oven off. This prevents the cheesecake from sinking.

When I walk into a department store, I get the sensation…

Do you remember that commercial with the woman who got a sensation that looked very much like a mint-induced orgasm when she bit into a York Peppermint Pattie?

When I walk into a department store, I get the sensation that a giant cloud of molecule-scrambling toxins surrounds me. Lights flicker, alarms go off, the “check price” scanner won’t read the tag no matter which freakin’ way I turn it, my muscles tremble from carrying too much, I get stuck in a pretzel position with my arms above my head as I try to take off some top that I should have known was too tight as I was putting it on, I sweat profusely, my hands smell of metal hangers, I have to scrape someone’s chewed gum (formerly stuck to the filthy, smelly-feet-scented dressing room carpet) from my shoe, the lady tells me I can take only 3 items in of the 350 I have schlepped into the dressing room, the “sanitary” strips in the crotches of the bathing suits mock me with their whispered taunts of “STD, STD, STD,” the sales clerks never let me use any of my coupons.

Cigarette? No? Wasn’t that good for you? You must not have masochistic tendencies. Neither do I. That’s why I do all my shopping in front of a computer monitor.

What makes my department store shopping experiences even more depressing is that I know they aren’t like that for everyone. When my Mom walks into a department store, it’s like that scene in the Wizard of Oz when the four pals gain access to the Emerald City and are whisked off to the spa for mane curling and other pampering. Everything is on sale, everything fits, all coupons are accepted, the sales lady even allows her to use multiple coupons on the same purchase and then gives my Mom her special employee discount and hands her a wad of bills as change.

I have tried everything from reciting motivational mantras in my car before entering the store, to having Dr. Phil-like pep talks with myself (“Behave as if you’re not a big shopping loser”), but it’s no use. They smell my fear. The crowds in the aisles part like the Red Sea as I approach. Even the perfume ladies won’t deign to spray me with their designer DDT. That may be the best part.

When I stay at home and shop online, I get the sensation that I’ve just avoided the biggest rat race in the world, that I’ve bought things at the same sale prices without the hassle and with free shipping in most cases, and that there won’t be any emergency GYN appointments in my future.

Happy Holidays!