Baked Ricotta Custards

12 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
3/4 cup fresh ricotta cheese
2 eggs
1 egg white
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
coarse granulated sugar (optional)

Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Have ready 10 to 12 four-ounce ramekins.

In a large bowl using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the cream cheese until light, smooth and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the ricotta and mix until combined. Add the eggs and egg white, 1 at a time, mixing until completely incorporated after each addition. Add the vanilla and mix until combined. Add the sugar and cream and mix until combined. The batter should be smooth and glossy.

Divide the batter among the ramekins, place in a large roasting pan and place on the oven rack. Pour enough hot water into the roasting pan around the ramekins to reach about halfway up the sides. Bake for 45 minutes, until set. The top should not have changed color at all. Set aside to cool slightly. Refrigerate until chilled through, at least 3 hours.

If a crisp topping similar to that on creme brulee is desired, you may sprinkle the top of each custard with coarse sugar and caramelize it under the broiler or with a blow torch just before serving.

Serve with any dessert sauce.