Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Cake of the Week: White Ricotta Tart

Once, while in a “diet phase” in high school, I made a ricotta cheesecake as a “healthy alternative” to regular cheesecake. I hated it. I wanted/expected an exact replica of the smooth creamy richness of cheesecake that I love so much. So when I put a forkful of ricotta-textured cheesecake in my mouth I was totally bummed. I said never again to the ricotta option and left it at that.

Fast-forward 7 years to winter 2011. I saw this post on Sprinkle Bakes, and in typical Mollie fashion gasped out loud and immediately sent it to all my friends – Want! Need! Have to have!

LLC made the White Ricotta Tart for a book club meeting and served it with mixed berry compote. Swoon! I was sold and back on the ricotta train, signing up for a lifetime ticket.
Last week I finally unpacked my food processor (yay!), figured out how to turn it on (harder than you might expect), and conquered crust-making! I made this White Ricotta Tart for a birthday party Friday night – Happy Birthday Nikki! 

Each guest brought a snack, so I cut the tart into bite-sized pieces and put each piece in a mini cupcake liner. (Plus a test-piece for myself...shhhhh!)

Everyone loved it! The recipe is super easy, so make it for yourself and all your friends! 

The original includes a recipe for sugared fruit, and LLC served it with fruit compote. I served it plain and it was great – this tart can definitely hold it’s own.

(Since I was baking mid-week, there are no glossy Photoman pictures to be had…sorry. I did my best but clearly failed, so I have just two of my pics to prove that I made it, and then borrowed from Sprinkle Bakes. And the flowers are just for fun - DC is gorgeous right now!)

White Ricotta Tart

Tart shell:
1 cup AP flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp water
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Liberally butter a 11" tart or quiche pan and set aside.
In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, sugar and salt.  Pulse to combine.  Add butter pieces and pulse until fine crumbs form.  Add yolk, vanilla and water.  Pulse in quick bursts until dough forms a ball.  Press dough into buttered pan (flour hands if your dough is sticky). Chill shell for 40 minutes.
After chilling, prick the tart shell with a fork and bake for 20 minutes.  Let shell cool completely before filling.
4 oz cream cheese, softened (low fat or no fat, if you like)
2/3 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
1 1/4 cups part skim ricotta cheese
3 egg whites
1 vanilla bean, seeds reserved and hull discarded (I just used 1 teaspoon vanilla)

Combine softened cream cheese, ricotta, sugar and salt in a large bowl.  Cream together with an electric hand mixer. Add egg whites and vanilla seeds.  Mix at medium speed until combined.  Pour into cooled tart crust and bake for 20 minutes