One of my favorites is crostata tart made with ricotta cheese and chocolate, plenty of chocolate. This is my masterpiece.
Do you want to give someone a special present? This is the right recipe.
I love it so much that I want to share it with you as if it were my most precious piece of jewelry. If you are thinking about giving someone you care about a special homemade present, this is the right recipe, especially if they like chocolate.
My story about the crostata tart
Believe it or not, I started my career as a pharmacist. Among the countless customers who frequented the pharmacy, a strange lady from Naples appeared one day. She was lively, full of energy, and had the sharp distinct voice of a soprano. I could hear her with a voice so high she could break the sound barrier even when she was two blocks away. She went on speaking for hours.
By contrast, in northern Italy people are shy, reserved, and polite. Everyone is used to talking and laughing quietly with composure, only saying what is necessary. That lady was the extreme contrary, and everyone noticed her as she stuck out like a sore thumb. One afternoon she entered the store, and in the middle of the crowded pharmacy, she shouted out: “Please doctor, can you help me? This prescription says that I have to take one suppository every day. I have been taking it with a glass of water, and I can swallow it pretty well, but I can’t digest it. What should I do?” Imagine my embarrassment in having to explain to her how to use suppositories properly.
My explanation was so effective that she immediately got rid of her stomachache and this sweet lady, with the high screeching voice, brought me a scrumptious crostata tart. The sad part was that she didn’t remember the recipe. But being persistent, I tried making it over and over again until I got the right combination of ingredients.
Ricotta cheese and dark chocolate chips are the main components of this recipes.
Even though it looks like a cheesecake, it isn’t! It is a tart with a crunchy crust that enshrines a tender core. You have to taste it to understand what I am talking about.
The ingredients for the crostata tart
- Ricotta cheese made from sheep’s milk: it is soft, embracing, and a bit sweet, but it makes a perfect tart. Look for extra fresh ricotta, which should be as white as snow with no yellowish spots. Drain it; otherwise, your tart will get too watery. If you can’t find ricotta cheese made from sheep’s milk, look for fresh cow’s milk ricotta. Add whole milk cream or a mix of 1¾ cups (400g) of ricotta and ½ cup (100g) of cream;
- Dark chocolate chips: they combine better with the crostata filling. If you don’t have chips, cut up a bar into coarse pieces;
- Vanilla flavoring: if you can’t find vanilla powder, use vanilla extract. Use the real stuff.
- Orange blossom extract: this comes from the distillation of the essential orange blossom oil. Be careful with the quantity, and only use a few drops for your tart. If you can’t find orange blossom extract, replace it with grated orange zest and use the peel from half an orange. It will give the tart a pleasant aroma and will balance the taste of the cheese.
- Tart crust in the US is what we call “shortcrust pastry” in Europe. It takes hard work to prepare this dough, so if you are in a hurry and you want a perfect tart, buy a good crust. However, a homemade tart crust with simple and healthy ingredients is definitely better.
I find it difficult to make tart crust, what should I do?
Here are a few suggestions:
If the dough falls apart, add a very little ice-cold water or the remaining cold egg white; the dough will immediately get more compact and elastic;
- The crust is too dry, so when you prepare it the next time, add a pinch of baking powder:
- You can’t roll out the dough easily, so use a rolling pin and roll it between two sheets of parchment paper. It won’t break;
- Take your time because the tart crust must refrigerate for at least 40 minutes. The dough will get compact, hard, and will be easier to roll;
- If the dough has been refrigerated too long, quickly knead it again (without warming it too much) and then roll it out;
- When you roll the dough, do not use too much flour because it will make the surface of the tart gray and opaque;
- The lattice pattern is not only a nice decoration, but it also prevents the filling from burning when the tart is in the oven;
- If you can’t make strips because the dough falls apart, you may also cut the dough into nice shapes with a cookie cutter;
- Prick the dough with the tines of a fork before filling it to prevent the crust from swelling;
- If there is some dough leftover, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate or freeze it for up to a month.
For the shortcrust pastry
- 1 + ⅔ cups of all-purpose flour (about 270g)
- 3 egg yolks
- ½ cup cup or 1 stick of butter (100g)
- ½ cup of granulated sugar (100g)
- 1 tsp of vanilla extract
For the filling
- 2+ ¼ cups of sheep’s milk ricotta cheese (or 50% from sheep’s milk and 50% from cow’s milk)
- 1 cup of chocolate chips
- 1 extra-large egg
- ⅛ tsp (a few drops) of orange blossom extract
- 1 tsp of vanilla extract (4g)
- ½ cup of granulated sugar (100g)
- Powdered sugar to garnish
- First to prepare the tart crust, soften the butter at room temperature or in the microwave (be careful not to melt it);
- In a big mixing bowl put the egg yolks, the sugar, and the coarsely diced butter. Work fast to mix it with your hands until you have a grainy texture;
- Add the flour and combine the ingredients until you have an even mixture.
- Use a spoon or your hands, but try not to warm the dough too much;
- Wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours;
- In the meantime, prepare the ricotta filling. Drain the ricotta to eliminate all the whey;
- Then combine the ricotta, sugar, and the egg;
- Add the orange blossom and vanilla extract until it’s even and smooth;
- Add the chocolate chips and combine well;
- Refrigerate for about 2 hours;
- When the time is up, take the dough out of the fridge and knead it;
- Take a 8-inch (20cm) round baking pan with 1.5 inch (4cm) high sides;
- Roll out the cold dough between two sheets of parchment paper;
- Roll out a disk big enough to overlap the tart pan;
- Place it in the tart pan covering the bottom and the sides;
- Trim off the overlapping edges and make a ball of the leftover dough to use for the garnish;
- Prick the dough with the tines of a fork;
- Evenly spread out the filling;
- Roll the extra dough, cut it into 0.5 inches about wide stripes to decorate; seal the edges with the fingers;
- Refrigerate the tart for 20 minutes;
- Pre-heat the static oven to 350°F (180°C) and bake for about 45 minutes;
- Turn off the oven and let the tart rest inside for about 10 minutes;
- Open the oven door and let the tart cool down;
- When completely cool, generously sprinkle with powdered sugar.