Chocolate and Ricotta Tart: let’s try to sweeten the end of summer!

Here I am, posting for the second week in a row, a cake recipe! I blame the approach of summer’s end, the shortening of the daylight, and the turning of tree’s leaves, that lately I have been really craving comfort foods! Or perhaps, making this recipe, which has been in my mom’s recipe book as long as I can remember, is my way of overcoming my recurrent homesickness. This ricotta tart is, without a doubt, a fond memory of my Italian youth. It’s the cake my mom use to make for my birthday, since it was (actually, it still is) my favorite. This is the cake that, on my birthday, I now prepare for myself!! I know the recipe by heart, and I can not help but make it at least one a month… because it’s that good!

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The combination of crust pastry and sweet, creamy, intense ricotta cream make this seemingly simple and frugal  tart a real surprise to the palate.  And here is a bonus… I don’t know if this has ever happened to you, but occasionally I forget a package of ricotta in the very back of the refrigerator, only to find it once it’s already expired. Super frustrating, if you hate to waste food as much as I do. Well, this tart is the perfect solution. If the ricotta hasn’t really gone bad yet, but you don’t trust eating it raw, make this tart, and not only will you avoid the food-waste guilt, but you’ll also be guaranteed a delicious outcome! And that is a WIN-WIN!! Absolutely easy to be prepared, it takes very little “hands-on” time. However, the crust pastry needs to chill in the refrigerator at least half hour before assembling the tart, and it does need to bake for about 40 minutes.

INGREDIENTS for a 9″ round pan

FOR THE PASTRY

1 stick room temperature unsalted butter – 100 gr. burro a temperature ambiente

1 egg – 1 uovo intero

4 Tbs. sugar – Quattro cucchiai di zucchero

1 Tbs. vanilla extract – 1 fialetta aroma alla vaniglia

2 cups all purpose flour – 300 gr. di farina

FOR THE RICOTTA CREAM

15 oz. (1 small package) ricotta cheese – 500 gr. ricotta

1 yolk – 1 tuorlo

1 tbs. melted unsalted butter – 20 gr. burro fuso

1/2 cup (4 oz.) sugar – 100 gr. zucchero

FOR THE DECORATION

dark chocolate or dark chocolate chips

SUGGESTION

If you can, use a springform cake pan.

DIRECTIONS

At least half hour before assembling the cake, prepare the crust pastry: In a bowl, combine the butter and sugar first until they are well mixed. Then add the egg and keep stirring. Add now the flour. Stir until all the egg, sugar, and butter have been absorbed into the flour and the mixture has a crumbly texture.

THE MIXTURE WILL BE LUMPY and that is right and normal. Put the bowl in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes (no covering is needed).  Now you can go for a thirty-minute walk (so you will gain the right to eat a piece of this delicious cake :-)!). Whenever you are ready, in a food processor mix together the ricotta cheese with the sugar and the vanilla extract. Then add the yolk, and finally the melted butter (be careful not to add a too-warmed butter: you will cook the yolk!). You will obtain a velvety and dense cream (absolutely good to be eaten raw!).

Now arrange the pie: Butter the pan and sprinkle with flour (or breadcrumbs). Spoon 3/4 of the crumbly dough mixture into the prepared pan (you will keep the rest to decorate the top of the cake). Spread the dough evenly, completely covering the bottom of the pan. Then, using your fingers, press the dough to create a firm crust. Be sure to press the dough up the sides of the pan at least 1/4 inch. This is important to contain the ricotta cream while it bakes.

Pour the ricotta cheese cream on top of the firmed crust, then sprinkle the top with chocolate chips or dark chocolate shavings. Decorate the sides of the cake using the tines of a fork. Crumble the remaining dough on top of the cream.

Bake at 365 F. (180 C.) for about 40 minutes. It will be ready when the crust becomes golden and the ricotta cream changes color.

Let the cake cool off before taking it out of the springform pan infact, even if the temptation to eat a piece right away is strong, this tart tastes better at room temperature (not too warm or too cool).

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LEARNT IT, MADE IT, LOVED IT!

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I really hope you like this recipe, and please, if you do,

share it, like it, leave a comment, and subscribe to receive a new recipe each week for free,

and help support my blog!

Much thanks,

Silvia

Tips: – If you want to make a less fat tart, you can use partskim ricotta cheese. Of course the taste would not be as delicious as the regular cream, but good enough to be enjoyed;

– This cake can last up to one week, even if not refrigerated.

Fluffy apple coffee cake: irresistible!

A good rule for being confident in cooking is using fresh and seasonal ingredients: this little trick significantly increases the probability of obtaining a great result (see reason #8 of “The 10 funny (but true) reasons why you are a disastrous cook). And since apple season is just around the corner (see this very useful chart for year 2016), I would love to share with you another precious family recipe that makes the most of all these delicious apples, and is guaranteed to amaze your family or guests. And if you still have leftover apples after making this, remember these other two delightful recipes: “Apple crumble pie” and “Golden Apple muffins”

This scrumptious apple coffee cake is almost totally made out of apples (about 2 or more pounds of apples for a 9″ round pan) and few other ingredients. It takes about an hour to be prepared. Most of that time is the tedious work of peeling and cutting the apples. With the use of a food processor the dough will be ready in the blink of an eye! As for the taste, this fluffy, moist, fragrant pie is perfectly suited for a tea/coffee snack, or considering the strange similarity to “brioches“, Italians opt for it as a perfect  sweet and “light” breakfast, or,  sided by a warm custard and sprinkled with sliced almonds could also be served as a fancy dessert.

INGREDIENTS for a 9″ round pan

about 4-5 apples (better if Golden Apples) – 4-5 mele Golden

1 stick plus 1 tbs. warm unsalted butter (9 tbs.) – 130 gr. burro

2 eggs – 2 uova

1 yolk – 1 tuorlo

1 and 1/2 cups all purpose flour – 200 gr. farina

2 Tbs. baking powder – 1 bustina di lievito per dolci

2/3 cup sugar – 150 gr. zucchero

2 tsp. almond (or orange) extract – 2 cucchiaini aroma alla mandorla o arancia

juice of 1 lemon (to prevent apple slices from browning/oxidizing) – il succo di un limone

3 Tbs. warm milk – tre cucchiai di latte tiepido

1 pinch of sea salt – 1 pizzico di sale

about 2-3 Tbs. apricot preserves – 2-3 cucchiai circa di marmellata di albicocche

(To assemble the cake use a springform cake pan) – meglio usare una tortiera a cerniera

optional: almond slices or powdered sugar to decorate – facoltativi delle mandorle a lamelle o zucchero a velo per decorare

DIRECTIONS

Remove the butter and the eggs from the fridge at least 20 minutes before making the cake. You need those at room temperature.  Butter the pan and sprinkle with flour (or breadcrumbs).  Peel the apples, cut them in two, remove the core and slice three of them in thin slices and cut the rest in small cubes (just to be sure about the proportions between slices and cubes, I usually arrange the apples slices in the bottom of the pan, and when it looks totally covered I start cutting cubes instead).

Move the sliced apples into a colander and cover them with lemon juice, to prevent them from oxidizing.

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Put the apple cubes and add 2 tbs. of butter in  small pan and cook them at medium heat for about 5-8 minutes, until they become golden, stirring sometimes.

Pre-heat the oven at 365 F (180 C.).
In the mean time you are cooking the apple’s cubes, in your food processor combine, in order:

a) the remaining butter (should be 7 tbs.) with the sugar and a pinch of sea salt;

b) then the 2 eggs and 1 yolk plus the flavoring you picked (almond or orange);

c) next add the flour sifted with 2 Tbs. of baking powder;

d) finally, add three Tbs. of warm milk (not too hot! you don’t want to mess up the rising process and/or cook the dough’s eggs!) that will make the dough liquid enough to be poured in the pan.

Now that the dough is ready, pour a thin layer of it on the bottom of the pan (just enough to not let free spot).

Then, spread out evenly the cooled off apple’s cubes.

Cover the cubes with all the remaining dough and dry the apple slices very well with a paper towel.

Decorate the cake arranging neatly the apple slices and few apricot preserve flakes.

Bake the cake for abut 50 minutes making sure the cake doesn’t burn on top. The right way to make sure your cake is ready is pinching it in the middle with a teeth stick. If the stick come out of the cake dirty with dough it means the cake it’s not ready (so cover the top of it with an aluminum foil and cook it for few more minutes).    Before to eat the cake, good rule (according to my mom) is to allow the cake to cool on the inside. On the opposite side, I love eating it still warm!!! To not ruin the estethic of the cake, though, better taking it out of the spring pan only when it is completely cooled off.

By the way, whatever you decide to serve it, I highly recommend to sprinkle it with almond slices or (and this options suits better kids tastes) dust with powdered sugar. The apotheosis would be serving it with few tbs. of warm custard aside, but I understand that would mean more work!

LEARNT IT, MADE IT, LOVED IT!

I really hope you like this recipe, and please, if you do,

share it, like it, leave a comment, subscribe to  receive every week one new recipe for free,

and help support my blog!

Much thanks,

Silvia

TIPS:

– Be very careful with this cake: it could be really addictive! At my house, when I make it, it lasts no more than 24 hours! I’m warning you just because even if the fluffy consistency of the cake could lure you to think that it is a light one, well, considering the amount of butter in it, don’t yield to temptation of more than two slices in a row ;-).