The tart is beautiful in its simplicity; what could be more appealing than sweet, fresh ricotta paired with rich bittersweet chocolate? This recipe was adapted from a tart made at the Osteria Baralla, in Lucca, Italy.
Although the tart itself is simple to make, finding fresh sheep's-milk ricotta can be a challenge. A good, fresh cow's milk ricotta may be substituted, but it must be drained first: Spoon 1 1/4 pounds of cow's-milk ricotta into a cheesecloth-lined strainer or colander set over a bowl. Refrigerate overnight. Discard the liquid in the bowl.
Fresh sheep's-milk ricotta is carried at Cheesetique in Alexandria; call to determine availability. Fresh cow's-milk ricotta is carried by Balducci's and some Whole Foods Markets.
Make Ahead: The dough for the tart crust must be refrigerated for at least 1 hour. This recipe makes enough for 2 crusts; wrap the leftover dough and freeze for up to 3 months. The assembled tart must be refrigerated for 2 hours for the topping to set, then left at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.
Yield: Makes one 10-inch tart
- For the crust
- 2 1/2 cups flour, plus more for the work surface
- 1/2 cup sugar
- Finely grated zest of 1 small lemon or lime (scant tablespoon)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 2 large eggs
- For the filling
- 1 pound fresh sheep's-milk ricotta or thoroughly drained cow's-milk ricotta (see headnote)
- 4 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- For the topping
- 8 ounces best-quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 cup heavy cream
For the crust: Combine the flour, sugar, lemon or lime zest, baking powder, salt and butter in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the mix is crumbly.
Add the eggs and process just until the dough begins to come together.
Lightly flour a work surface. Transfer the dough to the floured surface; knead the dough just until it is fairly smooth. Divide and pat into 2 disks. Wrap one of them in plastic wrap, then place in a resealable freezer plastic food storage bag, pushing as much air out of the bag as possible. Freeze for another use.
Have ready a 10-inch round tart pan (or rectangular equivalent) with a removable bottom. Roll out the remaining disk of dough on the floured surface into a 12-inch round (about 1/8 inch thick). Carefully transfer it to the tart pan; gently press the dough into the bottom and up the sides; fold the overhanging dough into the rim to reinforce the dough on the sides. Use a rolling pin or your hands to even off the perimeter (top) of the dough in the pan. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Remove the tart shell from the refrigerator; use a fork to prick the bottom of the shell all over. Bake the tart shell for 10 minutes, until the edges are just beginning to turn pale golden. Remove the tart shell from the oven and let it cool while you make the filling. Leave the oven on.
For the filling: Place the ricotta in a large bowl. Add the confectioners' sugar, vanilla extract and cream; use a fork to gently incorporate those ingredients, breaking up the ricotta as you work. Spoon the filling into the partially baked tart shell; bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the filling is set but not at all browned. Transfer the tart (still in the pan) to a wire rack; let cool to room temperature.
Meanwhile, make the topping: Combine the chopped chocolate and cocoa powder in a medium heatproof bowl.
Heat the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat just until it bubbles at the edges; do not let it come to a boil. Remove from the heat and slowly pour it over the chocolate mixture; stir as you work so the cream is incorporated and the mixture becomes a glossy, dark and smooth ganache.
Carefully spread the topping on the cooled filling, starting in the middle and creating a thick layer that stops short of the crust (there should be the tiniest bit of white ricotta filling showing around the perimeter of the tart).
Refrigerate for 2 hours, until well chilled. To serve, remove the rim of the tart pan and transfer the tart to a serving platter. Let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.
Adapted by Alexandria cookbook author Domenica Marchetti.
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.
E-mail questions to the Food Section at firstname.lastname@example.org.