Torta di Ricotta Siciliana

Wow, my first recipe post!!!  Bear with me folks, I’m no blogspert and I’m still struggling with the layout 🙂

I vowed I would bake something at least once a week.  I’m not sure I will achieve that, but this is my first attempt to do so.  I was helped this weekend by some bad weather in Melbourne … perfect weather for a ricotta tart, still warm from the oven, and a coffee.

The filling for this tart is influenced by Sicilian cannoli.  I’m a huge cannoli fan and the traditional filling of ricotta cream, flavoured with orange, cinnamon, and chocolate, is divine.  It works really well for this tart which is light and not too sweet.  It doesn’t need anything at all to accompany it, but it is lovely served with a dollop of cream laced with Grand Marnier.  Great served warm, at room temperature, or chilled.

Pasta frolla is an Italian version of sweet shortcrust pastry(pate sucree).  In the interests of time, I used a food processor to make the pastry.  I’ll devote another post to Pasta Frolla with more detailed instructions soon.  This pastry is great because you roll it out and line the tart tin before chilling.  You need to work fast though and ensure you don’t overwork or heat the dough.  This will ensure the crust is light and flaky.

Yield: 1 x 24cm tart / 10 servings

Pasta Frolla
175 grams plain flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
50 grams caster sugar
125 grams unsalted butter, chilled
1 egg yolk

Ricotta Filling
375 grams fresh ricotta
250 millilitres  pure cream
150 grams  sugar
2 eggs
1 orange
1 tablespoon Grand Marnier or Triple Sec liqueur
100 grams plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
50 grams sultanas
30 grams good quality dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids)

For the shortcrust pastry: A good tip for making pasta frolla is to have the ingredients chilled (yes, even the flour on a hot day!)

Heat the oven to 190°C/375°F.  Line the base of a 24 cm loose bottomed tart tin with a circle of baking paper.

Place the flour, salt, baking powder, and caster sugar into the bowl of a food processor and pulse for a few seconds to aerate.  Add the chilled butter cut into cubes and process for a few seconds just until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs.  Add the egg and process just until the mixture comes together to form a ball. Be careful not to over-process the dough in the processor as the machine will heat the dough and the result will be tough rather than short and flaky.

Place the pastry onto a clean surface sprinkled liberally with flour.  I tend to use a sheet of non-stick baking paper as this helps to easily lift the pastry for lining the tin. Flatten the pastry slightly and roll it out to a circle about 28cm (11in) in diameter.  Using the rolling pin and baking paper to support the pastry, roll it up and gently unroll it over the tart tin.  Press the pastry into the tin, patching any tears or holes.  Roll the rolling pin over the top of the tin to remove excess pastry.  Cover and chill in the freezer for 30 mins or in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

You can re-roll the excess pastry to make Frollini cookies (I made Stelline – little stars).

Bake the pastry blind at 190C for about 20 – 25 minutes, until the edges are just starting to colour.  Remove from the oven and set onto a wire rack to cool slightly (remove the weights and lining).

While the pastry is baking, make the filling: Place the ricotta, cream, and sugar into a large mixing bowl and beat until smooth.  Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until incorporated.  Add the grated zest and juice of the orange, and the Grand Marnier to the ricotta mixture and mix well.  Sift in the flour, baking powder, and cinnamon and mix until smooth.  Finely chop the chocolate and fold into the mixture along with the sultanas.    Reduce the oven temperature to 180C/350F.  Place the filling into the cooled tart shell.  Don’t panic if you think there is a lot of filling!  Bake at 180C for about 60 minutes or until the tart is golden.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly on a wire rack.

Dust liberally with icing sugar to serve.  It keeps for several days in an airtight tin in the refrigerator.  Allow to come to room temperature before serving.   It was pretty cold on Sunday night and the family spent a nice evening tucking into a slice with a cup of coffee.  ENJOY!!!

For posterity, I’ll leave the original main photo here …


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