Growing up in an Italian family, I’ve been eating ricotta cheese since I was able to handle solid foods. However, until recently, ricotta has always meant savory foods. Lasagna… manicotti… stuffed shells… ravioli… you get the picture. It was always a savory dish, and 9.9 times out of 10, it involved red sauce. It wasn’t until a few years ago when I had sfogliatelle and homemade cannoli and that I experienced how wonderful ricotta could be in a sweet recipe. A few weeks ago, I came across this ricotta cake in the Wall Street Journal and loved the idea of a ricotta-style cheesecake. Topped with fresh berries, what could be better?
This cake did not disappoint; the texture was wonderfully silky smooth, and the flavor slightly sweet with a punch of citrus. It makes a great, light dessert to cap off a summer meal.
The recipe for this cake states that freshly-made ricotta cheese is best for the cake due to the texture. I did not make ricotta from scratch, but the cheese department at my local (pretty large) supermarket makes its own fresh ricotta, so I bought a pound from there. I’m sure you could find fresh ricotta at any Italian grocery store, as well. I didn’t try this with commercial ricotta cheese, but I think it would still work, the texture just might not be exactly the same.
Now I know what’s next on my DIY list – homemade ricotta!
How do you like your ricotta recipes – sweet or savory?
A light ricotta cake topped with macerated mixed berries.
For the Berries:
3 cups strawberries, hulled and quartered
2 cups raspberries
1 cup blackberries
⅓ cup granulated sugar
For the Cake:
⅔ cup granulated sugar
5 eggs, separated
1 pound fresh whole-milk ricotta cheese
¼ cup mascarpone cheese
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon orange zest
2 teaspoons Grand Marnier
¼ teaspoon flaky sea salt
1. Prepare the Berries: In a medium bowl, gently toss the berries with the sugar. Let the berries macerate while the cake is made.
2. Make the Cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch springform pan; set aside.
3. Add the cake ingredients to a food processor in the following order, pulsing briefly after each addition: sugar, egg yolks, ricotta, mascarpone, flour, baking powder, orange zest, Grand Marnier and salt. After all of the ingredients have been added, blend until smooth, about 20 seconds. Transfer to a mixing bowl and set aside.
4. Using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until just short of stiff peaks. Gently fold the egg whites into the batter.
5. Pour the batter into the prepared springform pan. Bake until the center of the cake springs back when touched and appears just set, 45 to 50 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before releasing the sides of the pan.
6. Allow to cool to room temperature. When ready to serve, drain the berries in a colander. Serve at room temperature topped with the berries. The cake is best served shortly after making, although you can keep it at room temperature or chilled for up to one day, but only top with the berries just before serving.