Graham cracker crust:
7 graham cracker sheets, ground in a food processor to texture of fine crumbs, about 3/4 cup crumbs
1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons butter, melted
3/4 cup ricotta cheese
2/3 cup sugar
Three 8-ounce packages cream cheese
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons butter, melted
Preheat oven to 325 F. Line bottom and sides of one 8-inch springform cake pan with buttered parchment or waxed paper (you will need one circle of paper to cover the bottom, and one strip long enough to go around the side), and reserve for crust.
To prepare graham cracker crust, toss graham cracker crumbs with sugar in medium bowl. Add the 3 tablespoons of melted butter and mix gently with fork until evenly moistened. Press graham cracker mixture firmly into the bottom of the pan using the bottom of a drinking glass or measuring cup. Run the back of a teaspoon along the sides of the pan to create a smooth and even edge.
Bake crust until golden brown, about 7 to 10 minutes. Cool on wire rack while preparing the filling.
To make filling, blend ricotta cheese with sugar in food processor for 5 minutes to reach a smooth consistency. Place cream cheese and ricotta-sugar mixture in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Blend on medium speed until smooth. Add eggs, 2 at a time. Scrape the bottom and sides of mixing bowl with a rubber spatula several times between additions.
Add vanilla, lemon juice, cornstarch and flour and mix until smooth. Gradually add the melted butter, mixing just to combine. Bring about 1 gallon of water to a boil, remove from heat and reserve for later use.
Cover the outside of the springform pan with a double layer of aluminum foil to prevent leakage. Pour the filling over the cooled crust and smooth the surface.
Place the springform pan inside a large shallow pan (a roasting pan is quite sufficient) and place in oven. Pour enough of the reserved hot water into the shallow pan to create a water bath. The water should come halfway up the sides of the springform pan. Bake the cheesecake until the center barely jiggles when shaken, between 70 to 90 minutes.
Carefully remove pan from water, discard foil and place on wire rack. Cool cake on rack for at least 1 hour. Cover the cake with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of 4 hours, preferably overnight.
To serve: Remove sides of springform pan, as well as parchment or waxed paper strip. Serve cake directly on removable bottom of pan or gently slide the cake off the bottom onto a serving plate. Garnish as desired.
Makes one 8-inch cake yielding 12 slices.