Pizza di Ricotta (Sweet Ricotta Tart)
"A rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” said the romantic Romeo about his Juliet but it is also true for this traditional Italian recipe! Depending on the region, Italians call this classic dessert a crostata or pizza! Let’s add tart or pie to the list, too! Any way you call it, this simple shortcrust pastry features a creamy, lightly sweetened filling of ricotta. Scented with lemon zest and studded with bittersweet chocolate, this typical dessert in Puglia is often called “la pizza di Pasqua” because it graces every Easter celebration. Thankfully, my beautiful Apulian mother-in-law thinks it is much too delicious to reserve only for Easter. I’m sure Romeo would have agreed.
Make the pastry (pasta frolla)
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ⅔ cup butter, cold and cut into small cubes
- 1 egg
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 4 - 6 tablespoons chilled white wine or water
Make the ricotta filling:
- 2 cups ricotta
- ½ cup Sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp all-purpose flour
- 100 g shaved chocolate or chocolate chips milk, semi-sweet, bittersweet
- ½ lemon zest can use orange
- 1 tsp vanilla extract and/or almond extract
Make the pastry:
Using a food processor fitted with a metal blade, mix flour with sugar.
Add butter and pulse until crumbly. You should not have pieces of butter bigger than a grain of rice.
In a small bowl, beat egg lightly with a fork.
Add wine (or water) to egg and stir.
Pulsing the blade of the processor, drizzle the liquid over the flour mixture. Pulse quickly 8 to 10 times. The dough is ready when it seems moist but still crumbly. You should be able to pinch it together and it just barely holds together.
Place dough on the counter and using both hands, bring the dough together to form a ball. Do not knead. Simply squeeze the mixture so it forms a ball.
Divide the dough into ⅔ and ⅓, the larger ball for the bottom crust and the smaller portion for the lattice.
Wrap both balls in plastic wrap and flatten to form a disc. It is best to refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes but it is possible to roll it immediately.
Make the filling:
Preheat oven to 425°F. Have a 10”X2” tart pan (preferably with a removable bottom) nearby. You may wish to butter the bottom.
Add ricotta to the food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse a few times. Add the sugar and pulse until smooth.
Add the eggs, vanilla extract, and other flavourings (lemon zest, almond extract, etc.). Pulse just a few times.
Stop the processor and scrap the sides and bottom with a rubber spatula. Pulse once again.
Add the chocolate and pulse once or twice to combine. If you pulse too long, the chocolate pieces become too small.
Assemble the dessert:
Lightly flour the surface of the counter. Roll out the larger ball of dough, starting from centre and out. (If the dough is cold, it may take an extra few minutes to roll it out).
Continue to lightly sprinkle flour under the dough, lifting dough and rotating it so that it does not stick. Roll it out to 5mm thick. You may prefer a thicker crust.
Carefully place dough in the tart pan. With your fingertips, press the dough into the pan, trying not to stretch it. Trim edges of dough by pressing the rolling pin over the top edge of the pan or use your fingers to trim off the excess.
Pour the filling to almost the top edge.
Roll out remaining dough and using a fluted pastry cutter or knife, cut 10 strips (½” wide).
Arrange half the strips across the top of the tart and the other half going the opposite direction to form a lattice.
Mix egg yolk with 1 teaspoon of water in a small bowl. Brush mixture over strips.
Bake for 15 minutes at 425°F and then reduce oven temperature to 350°F for 35 - 40 minutes. The ricotta filling will puff up and settle as it cools. The crust will be shiny and golden. Set aside for 15 minutes to cool in the tin before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Can be eaten warm but it is best when it is refrigerated for 3 hours or overnight. Dust with icing sugar when ready to serve.