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A&E

Tom's Cookbook Library: Don't underestimate fruit’s versatility

In “Decadent Fruit Desserts” (Page Street), food blogger Jackie Bruchez serves up a delightful collection of inspired recipes that take fruit’s profile far beyond tarts and pies. California native Bruchez makes a good impression with her debut cookbook.

Among the various categories covered are Simply Dressed Desserts, Fruits That Take the Cake, Forks Not Required, Frozen Sweet Concoctions and Retro-Modern Delights.

Bruchez gives showstopper status to raspberry-ricotta cheesecake (see accompanying recipe).

In a brief introduction, the author sings the praises of fruit’s “versatility and intense flavor, not to mention its medicinal benefits.”

Journalist Tom Witom, who lives in Elgin, has written extensively for years about food and the food industry. Feedback on the column can be sent to bestofthefox@shawmedia.com.

RASPBERRY-RICOTTA CHEESECAKE

(Makes 8 to 10 servings)

Crust

1 cup graham crackers. Finely ground, about 8 whole graham crackers

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1/2 teaspoon salt

Filling

1-1/2 cups whole-milk ricotta

1/2 cup cream cheese, room temperature

1 tablespoon lemon zest, finely grated

1 tablespoon lemon juice

3/4 cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 large egg yolks

9 ounces fresh raspberries, washed and dried, for garnish

Powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

To make the crust, in a medium-sized bowl, mix together the ground graham crackers, sugar, melted butter and salt until the crumbs are evenly moistened. Using your hands, evenly press it into a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable base. Set aside.

To make the filling, in a medium-sized bowl, beat the ricotta, cream cheese, lemon zest and lemon juice until it’s light and smooth, about three minutes. Add the sugar, flour and salt and continue beating until it’s well combined. Add the egg yolks and beat until it’s just combined. Pour the filling into the crust and spread evenly.

Bake the tart for 30 to 35 minutes or until the edges are set, but the center jiggles slightly when moved. Let the cheesecake cool completely, then refrigerate it for two to three hours. Right before serving, garnish it with fresh raspberries and a dusting of powdered sugar.

Baker’s note

For an extra raspberry punch, stir a few berries into the cheesecake mixture before baking.

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