Chocolate Polenta Cheesecake
24 Oreo cookies
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 cups ricotta cheese
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon plus 1 tsp. grated lemon zest
3 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 dashes cinnamon
4 large eggs
4-1/2 cups milk
1 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups polenta
1/3 cup rich, thick chocolate sauce
espresso beans for garnish, optional
Preheat oven to 375ºF.
In the large bowl of a food processor or a mixer, combine the ricotta cheese, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice and cinnamon and mix well. Add eggs one at a time, pulsing briefly (or mixing on medium speed) after addition of each egg, to combine well. Set aside.
In a large heavy saucepan, heat milk over medium-high heat just to boiling point, then add salt. Lower heat and slowly drizzle polenta into hot milk, stirring continuously to prevent lumping.
Cook on medium-low heat for approximately 5 minutes, until polenta is thick and smooth, stirring frequently to prevent scorching on the bottom of the pan. When cooked, allow to cool slightly.
Add by large spoonfuls to the cheese and egg mixture, pulsing (or mixing on medium speed) after each addition to blend into cheese mixture. When thoroughly blended, pour into crust.
Warm chocolate sauce to a thick syrup-like consistency in microwave or double boiler. Drizzle and stir slightly into cheesecake, being careful not to touch the crust on sides or bottom.
Bake 1 hour and 10 minutes. Place a cookie sheet or aluminum foil underneath while baking, as the crust will leak and dribble somewhat in the oven. Remove from the oven and allow cheesecake to sit for at least an hour before serving.
You can refrigerate the cheesecake, but it is not necessary. Run a knife between the crust and removable rim before removing rim. Just before serving, place 1 or 2 espresso beans on each slice, if desired.