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Smooth Ricotta

By Cook's Illustrated Published September 2010

I’ve recently seen Sorrento brand Velvety Smooth Ricotta Cheese in the supermarket. What do you think of this product?

Sorrento markets this ultra-smooth version of ricotta ($3.49 for 15 ounces) to consumers who dislike the somewhat coarse texture of traditional ricotta. In the past, we’ve panned ricotta from Sorrento and other manufacturers that use gums and stabilizers, since we’ve found these additives make their cheeses soggy and gummy. However, this new product sticks with the basics—just milk, vinegar, and salt. Intrigued, we tasted it plain and baked into manicotti and ricotta cheesecake against our favorite creamy, pebbly-textured ricotta from Calabro ($5.69 for 1 quart), which also skips the gums and stabilizers.

Straight up, the two products have very similar flavors but markedly different textures. Most tasters preferred the familiar consistency of Calabro; the Sorrento cheese, with its dense, smooth texture, more closely resembled mascarpone. That creaminess was more at home in the manicotti but still met resistance from die-hard ricotta lovers, who expected a curdier texture. But the roles reversed when we got to dessert: Folded into cheesecake batter, the silky-smooth Sorrento product outshone the slightly coarser Calabro.

The bottom line: For fresh and savory cooked applications, we’ll stick with looser--textured, traditional ricotta curds from Calabro. But for certain sweet recipes like cheesecake, the Sorrento Velvety Smooth cheese is a welcome alternative—-especially since it’s more widely available than Calabro.

CREAMY CHEESE

Sorrento's Velvety Smooth Ricotta lives up to its name, but we'll save it for sweet dishes.