My Cookbooks

Cheesecake Anne with Passion Fruit Crème Anglaise and Berries


Growing up, my Italian grandmother always made the most delicious, light-as-a feather cheesecake for most every holiday. It was truly like eating a cloud, lighter than any soufflé. I had visions of this recipe hailing from the hills outside of Rome where my grandmother was from, being passed down from generation to generation, visions of nonas in housecoats and aprons with these secret recipes tucked in the big deep pockets... 

When I returned from cooking school and France, I finally had the confidence to give it a try so I called my grandmother for the recipe. "Oh, it's the Sunset recipe," she said matter of factly, not realized that she'd just knocked the wind out of my Roman cheesecake sails.

I immediately called my very good friend and mentor, Jerry DiVecchio, who was the food editor at Sunset Magazine for 42 years and asked her about said cheesecake. "Oh, Cheesecake Anne? Is that the one?" Well, Anne is her daughter who I have been friends with since the mid-80s when we were living in the Marina getting thrown out of the Paragon, but I digress... so yes this is Cheesecake Anne and yes, this is the cheesecake of my childhood, from Sunset Magazine, not from the hills outside of Rome. Buon gusto! 

Cheesecake Anne - by Jerry Anne DiVecchio (Sunset 1973)


  • 1.5 cups Graham cracker crumbs
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 3 - 8 oz Philly cream cheese packages
  • 6 egg yolks  
  • 6 egg whites  
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp lemon juice (plus lemon zest of 1 lemon)
  • 1 tsp vanilla (or vanilla paste)

  • 1 cup crème anglaise (NYT recipe) – keep chilled
  • 2 tbsp passionfruit purée (Perfect Purée Napa Valley)
  • 1 cup raspberries
  • 2 cups ripe strawberries, halved with green leaves intact
  • 1-2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp Grand Marnier

Make crust:

  1. Wrap an 8 or 9" springform pan with removable bottom on the outside with foil to minimize water seepage from cooking in water bath.
  2. Soften/melt butter and combine with crumbs
  3. Press into bottom of the pan and chill until set

Make batter:

  1. Beat cream cheese with egg yolks until smooth.
  2. Beat in sugar, flour, sour cream, lemon juice and vanilla.
  3. In separate bowl, whip egg whites until they hold short distinct peaks, then gently fold whipped egg whites into cream cheese mixture.  
  4. Pour batter into cheesecake pan with chilled crust.
  5. Place cheesecake pan into a larger pan with about 1 or 2 inches of water.  This prevents the top from cracking or if it does crack, it will "heal" as it cools.
  6. Bake in a 325F degree oven for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until center of cake no longer appears soft and is lightly browned. 
  7. Let cool at room temp for 2 hours before cutting or chill before serving if you prefer a creamier consistency. 

To plate with berries:

  • 30 minutes before serving, cut strawberries in half and place in a large shallow bowl with raspberries and top with sugar and Grand Marnier. Toss very gently so as to not break up the raspberries. Lightly cover with parchment so it won’t dry out. Take out Crème Anglaise.

  • To plate, place the cake on a platter and remove the ring. Gently, with a long offset spatula, slide the cake off the bottom of the springform. Slowly pour the Crème anglaise onto the cake from the center and let it run over the edges. Gently scoop up the berries with a slotted spoon and mound it on the cake starting on the outside and working in. You can drizzle some Grand Marnier around after all the fruit is on. Bon appetit.  

  • NOTE: to make this gluten free, omit the crust and the flour and add 1 whole egg to the egg yolks (so 6 egg yolks + 1 whole egg). You can also bake in individual ramekins and serve, topped with the crème anglaise and/or berries or dust with powdered chocolate or powdered sugar or all of the above ;) 



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