Crostata di Ricotta, Almond Ricotta Cheesecake, Vegan, Gluten-Free


I imagine this is how cheesecake was made before spring form pans existed, in a rich pastry crust. Soy lecithin is what gives this cheesecake and crust the rich flavor. The crust rolls out perfectly.


For the crust

2 cups rice flour plus a little extra for rolling
1 1/2 teaspoons xanthan gum
3/4 cup vegan butter
4 tablespoons soy lecithin in 4 tablespoons water
1/4 cup sugar
3 Tablespoons Marsala wine

For the filling
1 cup unsweetened non dairy yogurt
3 2/3 cups raw almonds
2 cups water plus water for soaking almonds
4 tablespoons soy lecithin in 4 tablespoons water
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
1 Tablespoon tapioca starch
1/2 – 3/4 cup sugar

The day before or 8 hours before preparing cheesecake, soak almonds in water. Place them in a jar and cover with double the amount of water. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Remove the soaked almonds from the refrigerator and drain and rinse them. Peel the skins by pressing them between the thumb a forefinger. Alternatively, you may blanch the almonds by cooking them for about a minute in boiling water, draining and when cool removing the remaining skins. You may also start with blanched almonds which can save some time since the skins are already removed. Put the almonds in a food processor and pulse to chop them up. Add about 1/4 cup water and pulse until water is incorporated. Do not add too much water at a time because you may reach the liquid limit on your processor and the water will leak out. Continue to add about 1/4 cup to the mixture and pulsing to blend. When the entire 2 cups water is added, pulse until creamy. The mixture with be a little lumpy, like ricotta cheese. But it should be blended enough so it’s not chewy. Stir in yogurt. Refrigerate until ready to pour in crust.

In a small bowl, beat the water into the soy lecithin until creamy. (I grind the entire container of soy lecithin granules and keep them in the refrigerator in a jar. It’s very sticky but blends easier with water when I am ready to use it). If the mixture is lumpy, use a sieve, strain the mixture into a another bowl so that it is very smooth. In a large bowl mix together the rice flour, xanthan gum and sugar. Cut in the vegan butter making a crumbly dough. Add in the soy lecithin and Marsala wine and knead into dough. Make one large ball. Divide the ball in half and take one of them and divide it in half and roll the 3 pieces into balls. Let chill about an hour.

When ready to roll dough, preheat oven to 350oF. Grease an 8 inch diameter, 2 inch deep cake pan. (A spring form pan may be used but is not necessary.) Cut a 9 inch diameter circle of parchment paper to line the bottom of the pan. The paper should be a little larger than the bottom so that it comes up the sides, about 1/2 inch.

Take the dough from refrigerator. Place a sheet of wax paper on a firm surface and sprinkle LIBERALLY with flour. The trick in rolling this dough so that it doesn’t stick is to use a lot of flour on the wax paper. The large ball of dough is for the crust, one of the smaller ball is for the top strips and the other 1/4 ball of dough is extra to use as needed where necessary. Take the large ball of dough (1/2 of the recipe) and flatten it into a round circle. Dust liberally with flour and cover with another sheet of wax paper. Roll dough into an 11 inch round circle. Remove the top sheet of wax paper. Carefully turn the dough over and press into the cake pan. Press the edges against the sides to reach the top of the pan. If you are having difficulty with the dough you can press pieces of it in the pan until the bottom and sides are uniformly covered.

In a small bowl, beat the water into the soy lecithin until creamy. Using a sieve, strain the mixture into a another bowl so that it is very smooth. In a large bowl mix the almond ricotta, lecithin mixture, vanilla, tapioca and sugar. Pour into the crust. Press the crust edges in, slightly over the filling.

Take one of the smaller balls of dough. As before, roll the dough between 2 sheets of waxed paper, only this time, roll out a long rectangle, about 10 inches by 6 inches wide. Cut dough into 6 long strips. Carefully top the filling with the strips crisscrossing as shown in the picture. Trim the edges. The remaining dough can be pressed into the crust to even out the edges if necessary.

Baked for one hour and 20 minutes until the filling is firm, not wiggly. Cover the top with aluminum foil or parchment paper after about 30-40 minutes to keep from burning or getting too brown. Remove from oven and let cool. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

  6 comments for “Crostata di Ricotta, Almond Ricotta Cheesecake, Vegan, Gluten-Free

  1. I will be attempting this beautiful cheesecake this weekend and I am wondering if there is a suitable substitute for the Marsala wine?

    • Hi Deb, This is exciting. I can’t wait to hear how it turns out for you! The Marsala wine is for flavor only, giving the crust a classic, traditional taste. You may use any sweet wine or water instead. You can also flavor with a teaspoon of vanilla or almond extract, and then add 2 Tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons of water to make the total liquid replacement. – Caryn

        • So sorry! Add the yogurt to the almonds after you have blended them with the water. I will update the recipe now.

          • Thank you. This took so much time! If I make it again, I will definitely buy blanched almonds. Also, I will process the almonds in two steps. I really didn’t get them smooth enough which resulted in a cheesecake that needs to be chewed thoroughly! It has a very good flavor though. I did add the optional almond extract in the filling. I think I would add a tsp. next time.
            I also used the almond extract and water in place of the Marsala wine in the crust, as well as whole wheat pastry flour instead of the rice flour.
            Thank you Caryn, I look forward to trying some of your other recipes.

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