Ricotta Pie


When I was little, I remember being labelled as a "good eater." "Oh, my girls eat anything," my mom would say about my sister and me. And it was true -- sweet potatoes, avocado, shrimp, parmesan cheese -- our taste buds were wise beyond their years. I remember feeling even a little sorry for the kids who were "picky eaters," whose culinary horizons didn't stretch beyond chicken nuggets, hot dogs, and Kraft Easy Mac. That being said, I did have my limits -- there were of course foods that my fairly complex palate wouldn't go near.  Ricotta cheese was one of them. I decided very early on that I despised finding a layer of the stuff hidden in my lasagna or within the seemingly innocent pocket of ravioli or manicotti. I didn't like its texture, its consistency, or its sneaky tendency to conceal itself in my pasta. I avoided eating ricotta cheese for years, convinced that it was one of the few foods I would never grow to like. 

So why am I sharing a recipe for ricotta pie you may ask? This recipe was the one that changed my mind about ricotta. "Torta di ricotta" is a dessert traditionally made for Easter in Italy. My mom makes it for this holiday, without fail. For years I had automatically passed on this final sweet course, given its main ingredient -- and prepared my own chocolate souffles and strawberry layer cakes, eager to have a dessert I liked on the table. But one year, I decided to give it a try, convinced by my father who offered me a bite of the slice he had taken. ("Oh just try it! You'll like it!") I took a tiny bite. It was sweet and perfectly smooth, reminiscent of a cheesecake, but lighter and sweeter, all wrapped up in a delicate crispy pasta frolla. One bite sufficed to elicit immediate regret on my part for never having tried it before. 

The nicest thing about this recipe is that it belonged to my maternal grandmother. I never had the chance to meet her, but I know she spoke Italian with a lovely northern accent, was petite like me, and was an incredible cook. This pie is proof of that. Her recipe isn't completely traditional -- the typical ricotta pie has candied fruit. However, my grandmother decided to add chocolate chips and cherries, perhaps to make the pie a bit more appealing to her three children. 


In case you're wondering, when I moved to Italy my relationship with ricotta changed. It is lovely in a cannoli, spread on toast with honey, or used as a main ingredient in a torta salata. We are friends now. So do make this dessert!! -- unlike any layer cake or cheesecake you will ever make, all you have to do is whisk together the ingredients in one bowl and pour it in to the pie crust. A couple of last notes: if you want to save time, you could also buy a pre-made pie crust here rather than making your own. Finally, be sure to use good quality, well drained ricotta here to guarantee a good pie. Enjoy!

RICOTTA PIE

Ingredients for crust:

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting (150 grams)
1/4 cup sugar (50 grams)
1/8 teaspoon salt (pinch of salt)
14 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces (196 grams)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract



Ingredients for filling:

1 1/2 lbs good quality ricotta cheese, well drained
5 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1  cup of sugar
3/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
½ jar maraschino cherries, drained and chopped
Powdered sugar for serving



Directions:

To make the crust: Pulse flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor until just combined. Add the butter and process it in to the flour mixture until small pieces form. In a bowl whisk together the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla, and add to the flour mixture slowly, while the food processor is running. Turn the dough out on to a work surface and knead it a little bit to form a ball. Flatten the ball of dough in to a disk, wrap it in plastic wrap, and place it in the refrigerator for an hour or two. Take the dough out of the fridge and and use a rolling pin, roll out the dough on a lightly floured work surface. Place the pie crust into a lightly greased 9 inch pie plate. 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. 


Next, make your filling. Put the ricotta in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar, and then add to the ricotta. Mix everything together until well blended. Add the vanilla and stir again. Stir in the chocolate chips and cherries, and blend. Pour the ricotta mixture in to the pastry crust. Bake in the preheated oven for 35-45 minutes, or until the pie filling is set and a toothpick inserted in the middle of the pie comes out clean. Let cool and then sprinkle powdered sugar over the top. Serves 8-10 people.








2 comments :

  1. "One bite was sufficed" - someone's English is getting bullied by Italian past verb forms ;)

    But apart from that THIS SOUNDS AMAZING. Do you think it could work with a super tart fruit in place of the other fillings?

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    1. Katieeee! My English is indeed getting stranger by the day but that was a typo I swear! Hahah :) I bet raspberries or blueberries (or both) would probably be yummy, but I can't say I've ever made this pie with anything but chocolate and cherries! Give it a try and let me know how it turns out for you!! xo

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