Italian Ricotta Pie
This wonderful Italian-style cheesecake has a rich, buttery tart crust and a lightly sweetened ricotta filling that's delicately flavored with fresh orange zest and lemon and vanilla extracts. It's the perfect finish for a spring dinner party or Easter celebration.
Italian Ricotta Pie
- 1-1/4 lbs ricotta
- 4 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Zest of 1 orange
- 1 cup cream
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- For the crust:
- 8 tablespoons well-chilled, unsalted butter
- 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 3 to 4 tablespoons ice water (or more if needed)
Prepare the crust:
Have a glass of ice water standing by and cut the butter into 16 pieces.
Place the steel blade into the work bowl of your food processor and add the flour and salt. Scatter the butter over the flour. Using the pulse function, process until the mixture is crumbly, with pieces the size of very small peas.
With the processor running, start adding the ice water through the feed tube in 1 tablespoon increments until the dough gathers into one or two large pieces. Run the processor for an additional 10 to 15 seconds, just long enough for the dough to gather into a ball. Be careful not to over-process.
Remove the dough from the processor and place it on a sheet of plastic wrap. Using your hands, flatten it into a 1/2-inch thick circle. Wrap tightly and chill for about 30 minutes in the refrigerator or 7 to 10 minutes in the freezer.
When the crust is ready to roll, dust both your rolling surface and the top of the dough with flour. Gently roll the dough from the center out, to a diameter of about 11 inches, dusting with a little additional flour as you go along. Place the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan on the dough and using a sharp knife, trim away the excess (see note below).
Generously butter the bottom and sides of the springform pan and place the dough on the base. Assemble and lock the pan, then, using your fingers, press the dough into the edges of the pan and up the side about 1/4-inch - just enough to seal the seam. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate while you make the filling.
Note: You can re-roll the excess tart dough, cut it into small squares, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and bake at 425°F until golden and crisp.
Prepare the filling and finish the pie:
At least 3 hours in advance (preferably overnight), place the ricotta in a fine strainer positioned over a bowl and refrigerate. This process drains the excess liquid in the cheese and ensures that the filling will solidify properly.
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350°F. Place the ricotta, eggs, sugar, lemon extract, vanilla extract and orange zest in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Process until smooth, 30 seconds.
In a small bowl, whisk the cream and cornstarch together until well blended. Add to the ricotta mixture and process for an additional 45 seconds or until the mixture is silky smooth.
Pour into the prepared springform pan and set on a baking sheet.
Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, until the filling has risen and the center barely jiggles when you shake the pan gently.
You can also test by inserting a butter knife into the center of the pie. If it comes out clean, the pie is done.
Open the oven door, but leave the pie inside to cool for 15 minutes. This helps prevent cracking. Cool for an additional 45 minutes outside the oven, then carefully remove the sides from the pan.
Transfer the pie to a plate and allow to cool completely before serving. Refrigerate any leftovers.
Makes 8 to 10 servings