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Crostata di Ricotta with Cherry Syrup

Crostada di Ricotta with Cherry Syrup
Bakeries in Rome's Jewish quarter are known for their delicious pastries, especially cheesecakes. For this version, seek out the smoothest and creamiest ricotta you can find. The fruit syrup can be omitted, or substituted with fresh fruit or melted fruit preserves.

Ingredients:

For the pastry:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 8 Tbs. (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into bits
  • 1 whole egg, plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

For the filling:

  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup wild or sour cherry syrup, plus more for drizzling (optional)

Directions:

To make the pastry, in a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, salt and lemon zest. Using a pastry blender or a fork, work in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, egg yolk and vanilla. Pour over the dry ingredients and stir just until the liquid is incorporated. If the mixture seems dry, add a tablespoon or so of cold water, or just enough so the dough comes together. Shape the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to overnight.

Position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 350°F.

Place the dough between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and roll out into a 12-inch round. Transfer to a 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom, pressing it smoothly against the bottom and sides. Trim the edges, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang. Fold the overhang over against the inside of the rim of the pan. Refrigerate the dough-lined pan while you prepare the filling.

To make the filling, in another bowl, whisk together the ricotta cheese, eggs, sugar and vanilla until well blended. Spread the 1/2 cup cherry syrup evenly on the bottom of the pastry shell. Pour the ricotta mixture over the syrup and spread it evenly. Drizzle a little of the syrup over the top in no particular pattern.

Bake until the top is puffed and golden, 55 to 60 minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Remove the pan rim and let the tart cool completely.

Slide the tart off the pan base onto a cake stand or serving plate. Serve chilled or at room temperature. Refrigerate any leftovers.Serves 8.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Savoring Series, Savoring Italy, by Michele Scicolone (Time-Life Books, 1999).