One of my resolutions for this year was to make my choices more diverse in terms of the recipes I cook and bake. I wanted to get a taste of unique things from different parts of the globe, and for a second just not get all nitpick-y about the “authenticity” of a recipe. I’ve been buying a lot of cuisine specific books actually, and it may not be apparent yet on the blog (still trying to find the right timing to share them!) but I have been trying things out here and there.
I find that the whole process has helped a lot to broaden my knowledge about dishes from different cuisines. It makes me look forward to the time I do actually get a taste of these dishes in their home countries, because then I’d have some basic recognition. Plus I can decide whether the recipe I tried was a keeper, or how to adjust them otherwise.
That was the case when I made this Italian Ricotta Pie. I admit I might have broken some rules here because I had a little shortage on my ricotta (which I ended up subbing with cream cheese), but I thought it turned out well anyway. Well enough for someone who has never been to Italy anyway. Actually it was pretty delicious!
This was unlike anything I’ve ever eaten. It’s like halfway between a moist cake and a cheesecake, but that element of orange in there melding with the chocolate and the light ricotta truly makes it sublime! The orange zest really gives it a nice and bright flavour, something I prefer over the usual sweet milk chocolate Easter bunnies and eggs.
There are plenty of ways to make ricotta pies, according to the Italians, but this sweet version actually has chocolate chips in it. For those of you who like orange-flavoured chocolates, this is right up your alley, but if you want you can use lemon zest too. I really wish I had a nonna to teach me a thing or two about Italian cooking, because I think we all know how hearty an Italian table can get! I can only imagine what it’s like to eat with them during Easter.
Back to the pie, the only thing I really want to comment about is my failure to create one without all those cracks on top. The brand of ricotta I used was quite lumpy so I wonder if that somehow had an effect. Perhaps I should’ve pulsed it in the processor or blender for a smoother, less lumpy cake. Anyway, you’ll likely be showering the top with powdered sugar so that’s quite a minor complaint.
The filling itself proved to be a really soft contrast to the crust, which I laid on too thick and thus found a little too hard. Let that be a warning to everyone: Do roll out the crust properly instead of just flattening it into the pie plate as I did! (Shortcuts will get you nowhere most of the time, especially in baking.) You can absolutely make two crusts if you wish to put one on top since this is a pie after all. Typically used is a lattice crust.
Dual crust or not, this was absolutely delicious. It doesn’t feel as sinful as cheesecake, nor as heavy. The cake is light and addictive with spots of chocolate and orange in the mix—something that I find to be unforgettable even after the pie has been finished to the last crumb!
Italian Easter Ricotta Pie
Makes one 9-inch pie
For the pie crust
- 1 ⅔ cup 200 grams cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- ½ cup 113 grams cold diced butter
- 2 eggs
- pinch of salt
- pinch of baking powder
For the Ricotta Filling
- 15 ounces 425 grams ricotta cheese*
- 1 cup 200 grams granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon grated orange zest
- 1 teaspoon orange extract
- 4 eggs
- 1/3 heaping cup mini dark chocolate chips
Make the pie crust
- 1. Place all the ingredients in a bowl and cut the butter into the flour using a pastry cutter, or even just a spatula, until the dough comes together. (You may also use a food processor to make it easier. Just throw in all the crust ingredients and pulse for about 2 minutes until the mixture comes together.)
- 2. Gather the dough into a ball and wrap in cling-film. Refrigerate for about 1 to 2 hours.
- 3. Once the dough is chilled sufficiently, place on a lightly floured surface and roll out into a round that’s roughly 10 inches in diameter. Place dough onto a 9-inch pie pan, covering the bottom and the sides. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 20 more minutes to set. In the meantime, preheat oven to 350F (180F).
Make the filling
- 4. In a mixing bowl using a spatula, combine the ricotta cheese, sugar, flour, orange zest and orange extract.
- 5. In a measuring cup, whisk the eggs until creamy yellow in colour, about 5 minutes. Fold the eggs into the ricotta cheese mixture.
- 6. Pour the filling into the chilled pie crust. Sprinkle half the chocolate chips on top then lightly push down into the filling. Sprinkle the other half and let them float on top. Bake for 50 minutes without opening the oven.
- 7. When the time is up, turn off the oven and crack open the door, letting the pie cool completely inside. It will continue to set with the help of the residual oven heat. Just before serving dust with powdered sugar, if desired.
Well, I do hope you try this one out. There aren’t that many restaurants that sell ricotta desserts in Manila so I feel like this one is pretty unique and very appropriate for the occasion at hand. I hope you all have an awesome Easter with family!