Migliaccio is a rustic ricotta and semolina cheesecake that hails from the Italian city of Naples. Made with aromatic notes of vanilla and orange, it is the perfect treat for the chilly months that lie ahead. The use of ricotta makes for a light and fluffy texture distinct from the original cheesecake. And semolina provides structure and moisture at the same time. The flavors are reminiscent of many Levantine sweets that I grew up with, such as namoura or basbousa, which call for semolina and yogurt or mamoul mad – a semolina cake stuffed with clotted cream. Some variations of miggliaccio call for a higher ratio of semolina in comparison to cheese, resulting in a denser texture. I personally prefer a higher ratio of ricotta, making for a dessert that can still be considered a ‘cheesecake.’
I love the simplicity of this cake. The recipe basically consists of two steps before baking. It begins with simmering the semolina mixture while stirring to make a thick pudding. Then, the mixture is integrated with the rest of the ingredients to make a smooth batter. The outcome is a delicious cake made for the nostalgic.
I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do, and if you give it a try I would love to see your photo! Tag me on Instagram or send me your pictures.
Lots of love,
INGREDIENTS/ SERVES 8
1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
1 cup fine semolina
1/2 cup water
2 cups whole milk
Zest of 1 lemon or 1/2 a large orange
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon orange blossom water
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
Pinch fine sea salt
Place ricotta cheese onto a fine mesh strainer over a bowl to collect liquid. Leave to sit in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours to overnight. Pat the cheese with a paper towel to remove any excess moisture.
Preheat oven to 400F/200 C and lightly grease a deep, round 9 inch pan or regular 10 inch pan with butter. Set aside.
Combine semolina, water, milk, citrus zest, and butter in a medium saucepan and place over medium-low heat. Whisk often for about 10 minutes or until the mixture becomes hard to stir. remove from the heat and spoon into a large mixing bowl.
Add the ricotta, eggs, sugar, and salt to the semolina mixture and beat with a mixer until smooth. Pour the batter into the cake pan and bake for about 40 minutes if using a 10 inch pan and 50-65 minutes if using a deep 9 inch pan. If the surface browns before the center of the cake has firmed up, gently place a piece of foil over it for the last 10-15 minutes of baking time. You will know the cake is finished when the center is firm to the touch.
Leave to cool for 2 hours at room temperature and at least an additional 3 hours in the refrigerator before serving.