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Chef Walter’s Flavors + Knowledge: Ricotta & Mascarpone Tart

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

 

This rustic tart is made mostly during holidays but I think it’s a great sweet to have any days. This recipe has sheep's ricotta and imported mascarpone. Both cheeses can be found in specialty cheese shops; however whole milk ricotta and domestic mascarpone are valid substitute.

Ricotta is an Italian fresh cheese made from sheep, cow, goat or buffalo’s milk whey left over from the production of cheese. Since the casein is filtered away from whey during cheese making process, Ricotta is suitable for persons with casein intolerance. Being low in fat and high in protein, Ricotta is a dieter’s dream cheese.

Traditional Italian fresh ricotta is smoother than cottage cheese but slightly grainy, white, moist and tastes mildly sweet. The light, delicate consistency and clean flavors make it a perfect accompaniment to a variety of recipes and dishes. Ricotta is a popular ingredient in many Italian dishes like lasagna, manicotti, cassata, cheesecake, calzone, pizza, and ravioli and dips. It is also suitable as a sauce thickener. Fresh Ricotta pairs great with Sauvignon Blanc.

Mascarpone is an Italian cheese from the Lombardy region, made by curdling milk cream with citric acid or acetic acid. It is a thick, double or triple cream, soft cheese with a very high fat content ranging from 60% to 75%. The resulting rich butterfat content makes the cheese an essential ingredient in Italian recipes like Tiramisu and cheesecakes.

The texture of Mascarpone ranges from smooth, creamy to buttery, depending on how it is processed during cheese making. The concise portrayal of Mascarpone really is just thickened cream that is on its way to becoming butter. Making the cheese is so simple that many people easily make their own Mascarpone at home. Mascarpone is used in both sweet and savory dishes. It is added to enhance the flavor of the dish without overwhelming the original taste. The cheese tastes best with anchovies, mustard and spices, or mixed with cocoa or coffee. Tiramisu, a layered dish with espresso, brandy, chocolate and Mascarpone has brought the cheese to the forefront of Italian cooking. Another possible use of Mascarpone is to thicken puddings and dessert creams. It is also popular as a standalone dessert served with fruit or syrup. Whether you buy Mascarpone or make it at home, it needs to be consumed within a few days or it can go bad. (Cheese.com)

Ricotta & mascarpone tart

Servings: 8-10

Ingredients

Pastry dough

• 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
• 1/2 cup granulated sugar
• 3 whole eggs, beaten
• 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
• 2 teaspoons baking powder
• 1 egg yolk, to brush on lattice strips

Filling

• 2 pounds sheep ricotta or whole milk
• 1 pound mascarpone, imported or domestic
• 3/4 cup granulated sugar
• 2 or 3 tbsp. anisette liqueur (optional, but recommended)
• 4 whole eggs, beaten
• ½ cup dark chocolate chips

Directions

• To make pastry, cream together butter and sugar, add beaten eggs, sifted flour and baking powder. Mix well and knead. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and let stand for 2 hours. This is enough pastry for one bottom shell and the lattice strips for the top

To make the filling:

• In a large bowl mix ricotta, sugar, beaten eggs and chocolate.
• Assembling: Divide pie crust into two portions, with one portion being slightly larger (for the bottom crust). Roll out crust on a lightly floured surface and fit loosely into a deep 9 inch tart pan with removable bottom. Add filling to tart shell and level off.
• Cut second portion of pastry into long lattice strips and arrange by interleaving the strips into a lattice pattern. Brush the pastry with lightly beaten egg yolk.
• Bake in a preheated 350°F oven for approximately one hour.
• When pie has cooled, dust top generously with confectioners’ sugar.

Note: For an extra special touch, store anise seed in a jar of confectioners’ sugar for at least 1 month. This adds a wonderful flavor to many Italian baked desserts.

 

Master Chef Walter Potenza is the owner of Potenza Ristorante in Cranston, Chef Walters Cooking School and Chef Walters Fine Foods. His fields of expertise include Italian Regional Cooking, Historical Cooking from the Roman Empire to the Unification of Italy, Sephardic Jewish Italian Cooking, Terracotta Cooking, Diabetes and Celiac. Recipient of National and International accolades, awarded by the Italian Government as Ambassador of Italian Gastronomy in the World. Currently on ABC6 with Cooking Show “Eat Well”. www.chefwalter.com / http://www.chefwalter.blog.com/

 

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