Mizithropita from Kefalonia

There is one dessert that reminds me of yiayia Anneta, whose kitchen I grew up in. While she made multiple types of traditional desserts that I associate with her, this one in particular no one else that I knew made. It is a ricotta based cheescake that is a regional sepcialty to Kefalonia, where we are from. It can easily be made keto if you only you switch out your sweetener. If you are paleo, feel free to use honey. I opted for monk fruit, but I serve it with a tiny drizzle of honey, as would be traditionally Greek.

Mizithropita dusted with cinnamon
& drizzled with honey.
Yiayia Anneta, photographed in Kefalonia before immigrating to the United States.
She was a magician in the kitchen!

The recipe calls for a little bit of fresh dill. I remember it being strange to me because it was a dessert. That little bit of dill serves as a lovely aromatic that you barely taste, leaving only a hint behind. But somehow the flavors all came together so beautifully, in this light sweet cheesecake.

The dill adds a pleasant earthy brightness to the mizithropita. Add the lemon zest, and you amplify that.

Dill from the garden.

Mizithra is, in most basic terms, the Greek version of ricotta cheese. It is a fresh cheese made with milk and whey from sheep or goats milk. In the market you will find it in two forms. It will either be aged and salted, creating a hard cheese that you can grate. Or it will be fresh and creamy much like the Italian ricotta salata.

Fresh mizithra or ricotta

And this cheesecake is traditionally made with goats milk. However, you can simply replace that with cows milk. If you are following keto, and want to increase the fat content while lowering the carbs, then use heavy cream instead. And that will surely lead to a richer finished product.

Goats milk is the traditional ingredient for this recipe.

Ingredients:

4 cups of ricotta cheese

1/4 tsp powdered monk fruit extract (or 1 cup of your favorite sweetener)

5 eggs 

1 3/4 cups goats milk (or cows milk)

3 tbsp almond flour

1 sprig of finely chopped dill (or 1 tsp of dry dill)

1 tsp cinnamon powder

1 tsp vanilla extract

zest of 1 lemon

Directions:

Separate the egg whites from the yolks. Beat your yolks with 1/2 the cinnamon and the monk fruit (or other sweetener) for around 10 minutes until silky. Add in the goats milk, almond flour, dill, ricotta cheese, vanilla, salt and lemon zest. Beat for 10 minutes or till combined and smooth.

Beat the ingredients together.

Set aside. With the whisk attachment, beat your egg whites into a meringue. When you have achieved stiff peaks, then gently fold the eggs whites into the rest of the mixture.

Egg whites beaten into a meringue.

In a 9 inch buttered pan, pour in your mixture and bake at 400 F for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Or until golden brown and when you can poke it with a toothpick and it comes out clean.

Pour the batter into a buttered pan.

Freshly baked and pulled out of the oven. You want to achieve this caramelized color.

Dust the remaining cinnamon on top and slice it.

Dusted with cinnamon and lightly drizzled with honey that I brought back from Kefalonia.

It can be eaten both warm and cold.

Kali Oreksi!

Three generations.
My great grandmother Andriani,
my grandmother Anneta,
and my nine year old mother Julia.
During my most recent trip, I visited the ruins of the home she grew up in and then raised her family in before immigrating to New York.

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