Chocolate-Orange Ricotta Tart
I have a stack of books to review piling up right now. On the top of that stack was Rustic Italian by Domenica Marchetti. I loved her previous book, The Glorious Pasta of Italy, and had high hopes for this next book. I paged through Rustic Italian, which goes beyond pasta to cover Italian dishes and treats ranging from fried sage leaves to pork rib ragu with polenta to poached pears with mascarpone cream. I wanted to make just about everything, but I homed in on the crostata alla ricotta e cioccolata, or ricotta and bittersweet chocolate crostata.
My friend was making braised short ribs and polenta for dinner, so I thought the ricotta crostata would be the perfect finish to the meal.
I gathered my ingredients and read through the recipe. The thing that was strange to me is that the dessert is called a crostata. I've always envisioned a crostata as a rustic dessert with folded-over dough, but this particular crostata sounded more like a tart. A sweet pastry dough is pressed into a tart pan, parbaked until golden, filled with a creamy ricotta mixture, and topped with rich chocolate ganache. The original recipe calls for a little lemon zest baked into the crust, but I opted to use orange zest instead, and I added some to the filling as well because I love the flavors of orange and chocolate together.
The finished dessert was a perfectly round tart rather than a rustic crostata, but that was okay with me as it made for an elegant presentation. This dessert is just the thing to follow up a hearty Italian dinner.
Chocolate-Orange Ricotta Tart (adapted from Rustic Italian)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
Finely grated zest of 1 Cara Cara orange
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut in small pieces
1 pound well-drained ricotta
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
8 ounces Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate, chopped or broken
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
Combine flour, granulated sugar, half of orange zest, baking powder, and salt in food processor, and pulse to mix. Add butter and pulse until crumbly. Add eggs and process until dough begins to come together.
Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface, and knead briefly.
Divide dough in half, pat one-half into a disk, and wrap in plastic and freeze for another use.
Take remaining dough and roll out into 12-inch round.
Carefully roll dough around rolling pan and unroll over 10 1/2-inch tart pan. Press dough gently into bottom and up sides of pan.
Trim overhanging dough flush with top of pan. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prick tart all over. Bake until edges are just beginning to turn golden, 10 to 15 minutes. (I underbaked mine slightly and it was a bit too soft, so definitely make sure you get those golden edges before removing the tart from the oven.) Transfer to rack and let cool.
Combine ricotta, confectioners' sugar, vanilla, remaining orange zest, and 2 tablespoons heavy cream in bowl, and stir with rubber spatula until combined.
Spread mixture in tart shell.
Bake until filling is set, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer to wire rack, and let cool to room temperature.
In large measuring cup, combine chocolate and cocoa powder. Heat remaining 1 cup cream in small saucepan over medium heat just until bubbles form around edges. Pour hot cream over chocolate, let sit 1 minute, then whisk until smooth.
Spread chocolate mixture over ricotta filling, starting at center and stopping just short of crust.
Refrigerate tart until thoroughly chilled, at least 2 hours. Let sit out at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving. Then cut into wedges and serve.
I loved this rich tart with its citrusy notes, creamy cheese filling, and thick chocolate topping, and I can't wait to try more recipes from this cookbook.
What are some of your favorite Italian desserts?