Ricotta Cheese Tart
We went to Jeff's parents' house for Rosh Hashanah the other night, and I always like to bring a dessert as my contribution to dinner. When I asked what I should bring, his mother mentioned that she loves ricotta cheesecake.
I started searching through my cookbooks looking for a ricotta cheesecake recipe and stumbled upon a recipe for a ricotta cheese tart in The Craft of Baking. I immediately thought of the rectangular tart pan I had recently bought at Williams-Sonoma and decided that this tart would be the perfect thing to break it in.
The original recipe calls for a 9 1/2-inch round tart pan, which holds a little more than my rectangular tart pan, so I made some mini tartlets as well. The good thing about this is that you can actually taste the dessert before serving it to others. The bad thing is you really have to pay attention to those little tartlets, and I was busy doing other things and overbaked them slightly. Oops.
Make sure to read this recipe all the way through before beginning, so you can manage your time. You'll need to drain the ricotta the night before you plan to make the tart. You'll also need to make the dough for the crust, chill it, roll it out and press it into the tart pan, chill it again, bake it, and cool it before you can fill it. This recipe is fairly simple, but it is time-consuming. I like to measure out my ingredients, do more involved steps like zesting the lemon, and set out all my supplies during any waiting/down time.
Also make sure your tart pan has a removable bottom. This will make serving the tart much easier.
Ricotta Cheese Tart (adapted from The Craft of Baking)
Almond Sable Dough
2 1/4 cups flour
3/4 cup almond flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
14 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar
1 large egg
1 egg yolk
1 pound fresh ricotta (drained overnight)
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 large egg
3 large egg yolks
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup creme fraiche
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Finely grated zest of 3 lemons
Fresh fruit (optional)
Make the almond sable dough: In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, almond flour, and salt.
In bowl of electric mixer fitted with paddle, cream butter and confectioners' sugar on medium-low speed for about 4 min.
Mix in the egg and then the yolk, making sure to fully incorporate each one. Mix in half of the flour mixture. Scrape the sides of the bowl, and then add the rest of the flour mixture.
Lightly flour your countertop, and turn the dough out onto it. Divide the dough in half, shape it into flat disks, and wrap each separately in plastic wrap. Chill in refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
You'll only need one packet of dough for this recipe, so you can freeze the other one (for up to one month) and use it for another baking project.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Roll the dough out into a rectangle that is 2 inches longer and wider than your pan. (Roll into a circle if using a round tart pan.)
Lightly flour the dough and then roll it around the rolling pin and transfer it to the tart pan. Set the dough at one end and unroll it over the pan. Press the dough into the pan, leaving an overhang.
Using a knife, gently cut away the excess dough by swiping the knife through it at the edge of the tart pan. You want the dough to be just even with the top of the pan. (Feel free to make tartlets with any extra dough.)
Prick the bottom of the tart all over with a fork, and let it chill in the freezer for 10 minutes.
Cut a piece of parchment to fit inside the tart with a 1-inch overhang. Press the parchment into the tart and fill it with pie weights. (I always use rice.)
Bake the tart for 15 to 20 minutes, until the edges start to brown.
Remove the parchment and weights, and continue baking the tart for another 15 to 20 minutes, until it is golden brown all over.
Place the tart on a cooling rack, and let it cool completely.
Make the filling: In bowl of stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, whisk the ricotta, sugar, egg, egg yolks, cream, creme fraiche, vanilla, salt, and lemon zest until smooth.
Pour the batter into the baked and cooled tart shell.
Bake 20 to 25 minutes, rotating pan halfway through, until the tart is set. The edges should be puffy and the center should just jiggle slightly.
Transfer to a rack to cool completely. Carefully remove the sides of the tart pan. You can serve the tart right on the base or slide it off onto a plate.
Decorate the tart with fresh fruit, if desired.
The tart was similar to, but so much lighter than, a traditional cheesecake. I loved how the fresh berries balanced the lemony zing evident in each bite.
Have you had a ricotta cheesecake or cheese tart before? What did you think?