Ricotta and Bittersweet Chocolate Crostata
More than a decade ago, on a visit to Lucca years ago, my family and I rented bicycles and cycled around the broad, elevated tree-lined boulevard that forms the outer wall of the medieval Tuscan city. By the time we were finished exploring, most of the restaurants had ended lunch service for the day. Luckily, we found a table and welcoming service at Osteria Baralla, near Piazza dell’Anfiteatro, the city’s main piazza, built on the ruins of a Roman amphitheater.
The food was good, typical Tuscan fare, but what really caught my attention was a deeply dark chocolate crostata resting in a display case that we passed as we made our way to our table. My son and I looked at each other and we knew instantly what we would be having for dessert. The crostata did not disappoint; the thick layer of chocolate ganache topped a creamy filling of fresh ricotta and cream.
A few weeks later, back home, I decided I’d like to recreate the crostata in my own kitchen. I took a shot and called the osteria, and the proprietor kindly emailed me the recipe. My family has been enjoying it ever since.
1. In a food processor, combine the flour, granulated sugar, lemon zest, baking powder, and salt and pulse to mix. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture is crumbly. Add the eggs and process just until the dough comes together. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, divide it in half, and pat it into two disks. Wrap one half in plastic wrap and freeze for another use. Wrap the second piece and refrigerate it for 1 hour.
2. Remove the pastry disk from the refrigerator. On a lightly floured surface, roll the disk into a 12-inch (30-cm) circle. Carefully transfer the dough to a 10-inch (25-cm) round tart pan with a removable bottom. Gently press the dough into the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Trim the overhang. Refrigerate for 1 hour (or up to overnight).
3. Preheat the oven to 350° F (180° C). Remove the tart shell from the refrigerator. Prick the bottom of the crust with a fork. Bake until the edges are just beginning to turn golden, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes. Leave the oven on.
4. In a large bowl, combine the ricotta, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, and 2 tablespoons heavy cream and mix well. Spoon the mixture into the crust. Bake until the filling is set, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool to room temperature.
5. In a heatproof bowl, combine the chocolate and cocoa powder. Pour the remaining 1 cup cream into a small saucepan and heat on medium until small bubbles form around the edges of the pan. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and cocoa and stir until the mixture id dark, glossy, and smooth and all the chocolate has melted. Carefully spread the chocolate ganache over the cooled filling, starting in the middle and creating a thick layer that stops just short of the crust.
6. Refrigerate the crostata until thoroughly chilled, about 2 hours. Remove the sides from the pan and set the crostata on a serving plate. Let stand a few minutes, then cut into wedges and serve.