Among the many Easter bread traditions that are found all over Portugal, I especially like three: one from the northeast region of Trás-os-Montes, savory and proudly displaying the good sausages from that region; the one from the southern city of Olhão, rolled and stuffed with a lot of cinnamon and sugar; and this one, from the city of Portalegre in the southeast, which is the one that brings me the sweetest memories.
Cheesecake is a dessert in which the main layer consists of a mixture of soft cheese (usually cream cheese or ricotta), eggs and sugar. It can have a bottom layer, made from crushed cookies or biscuits, and can even be topped with fruit, whipped cream, jam, chocolate or whatever the imagination dictates. It is common to find cheesecake made with gelatin, but I’m not very fond of that version. The more traditional version should be cooked in a bain-marie in the oven, just like this lemon ricotta baked cheesecake topped with little purple blueberries that I bring to you today.
Spring has barely set and everyone is already complaining about it. They say that it is late and shy, forgetting that this is a transition season, like autumn, and that it can both enthrall us with the promise of the summer days that are to come, as reminds us of the rainy winter days that we crave to leave behind. But with rain or without it, early spring is also a harbinger of a renewed abundance of ingredients and one of the first to come is the wild asparagus.
Another simple cake, a banana cake with raw chocolate, a useful recipe for using those bananas that remain in the fruit bowl and that nobody wants because they’re too ripe. And it’s really important to use those poor forgotten bananas because they are sweeter and that is why this banana cake takes a relatively smaller amount of sugar. Speaking of sugar, I use brown sugar because it’s not refined and because I think that its caramel flavor goes particularly well in chocolate cakes. The last package I bought is a dark brown sugar and it has an absolutely incredible molasses aroma! Now, turning to chocolate, as you can see the recipe indicates raw cocoa. This is not because I want to be picky or to follow some kind of fashion, these are fleeting and volatile as we all know. A while ago I bought raw cocoa to make a flourless chocolate cake. For no particular reason except that the raw cocoa was on the same shelf side-by-side with the chocolate powder and I like to try new ingredients. When you try it, you will see that the chocolate flavor is incomparably richer, dense, and delays in the mouth. Since it has no added sugars or additives and has less fat, there are only advantages, right?