I love my American desserts, but once in a while, I need to bake a dessert that is molto Italiano…very Italian! It’s not just me that needs it…it’s mostly my husband.
You see, he misses his mamma. And all her fabulous crostatas and tortas. So do I. I really, really DO! I charmed my husband when I met him with my pancakes! Yes, my pancakes. Every Sunday when he would call his mamma to say hello we would have just finished eating breakfast. It was usually pancakes, as it still is today. She was expecting him to say, “I just had homemade lasagne.” Mamma was a little worried for her son’s well being and his diet. Since then, I have progressed to making a dessert his mamma makes.
The other day I had a ginormous ricotta container of Ricotta from Costco just hanging around in my refrigerator. I was going to make a different dessert with it. My sweet hubby said, “Chiama la mia mamma.” Call my mom. He wanted me to call mamma in Italy to get her ricotta filling recipe for the crostata I had made the day before. I was planning on a different filling for the crostata. But I also was feeling nostalgic for a dessert she makes us when we visit in the summer.
My husband left his mamma in Italy when he was in his 20’s. My father left his mamma in Sicily when we was in his 20’s. They both came here to follow the big American dream. That is one of the few things my husband and father have in common. I often think about how I admire these two men in my life for leaving their country and not knowing a word of English. How brave they were to embark on a life changing adventure.
Here is my dad on the right and my Zio Vincenzo on the left right before my dad left for America.
Would I be able to do the same? I did live in different countries in my childhood and in my college years, but I knew the language. It was scary for me, but not as scary as say moving to Japan or India. I sometimes think: Could I move abroad to a country where I did not know the culture or the language? Could you? Have you? I’d love to hear about it.
We do get to visit sweet mamma every summer. I know, it’s incredible. We enjoy every moment of the time together, as for the rest of the year, we are separated by a vast distance. My mother-n-law spoils us rotten with her amazing food. Teresa makes all her cheeses and salami. Her crostata alla ricotta is filled with her amazing homemade ricotta. I really like her spicy ricotta.
Back in December, my dear friend Shulie and I had a fantastic double giveaway of Domenica Marchetti’s incredible book, Big Night In. You could read a little bit about Domenica here. I made cookies and Shulie made cookies and also a crostata. I had just made this Crostata alla Nutella for my first Daring Baker’s Challenge. It even got into the Foodbuzz Top 9! Woot!
I wanted to try Domenica’s recipe as a crostata. Her cookbook is full of incredible authentic Italian recipes. I can’t wait for her new cookbook to be released…it’s all about PASTA!
This dough is light and flaky. Buttery and tender when you put your fork in. The creamy ricotta filling has a lovely touch of tartness from the lemon zest and just the perfect amount of chocolate and a delicious hint of espresso! We had it for dessert. We had some more for breakfast and in the afternoon with an espresso. We shared some with our neighbors. My son declared, “I love your cheesecake mommy!” My hubby told me, “Non mi piacciono tanto i dolci con il peanut butter.” He explained, he’s just not that into my peanut butter desserts. But this...this makes his heart go pitter-patter.Pasta Frolla (Sweet Pastry Dough)
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for the work surface
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt or table salt
Zest of 1 lemon
1 cup confectioner’s sugar (I use granulated sugar)
1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
Put the flour, sugar, salt, and lemon zest in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse briefly to combine the ingredients. Distribute the butter around the bowl and pulse until the mixture is crumbly. Add the egg and egg yolks and process until the dough just begins to come together.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and gather it together. Knead it briefly and shape it into a disk. Wrap tightly in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1hour, until well chilled.
To make the tart shell:
Cut the dough disk into 2 portions, one slightly larger than the other. Rewrap the smaller portion and set aside. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the larger portion into a 13-inch round about 1/8-inch thick or slightly thicker. Carefully wrap the dough around the rolling pin and drape it over an 11-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Gently press the dough into the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Trim the overhang to about 1/2 inch and fold it in, pressing it against the inside rim to reinforce the sides of the tart shell. Use the rolling pin or the flat of your hand to press around the perimeter of the pan to cut off any excess dough. Put the lined tart pan in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Roll out the remaining piece of dough to 1/8-inch thickness. Use a cookie cutter to cut out decorative shapes (stars, moons, or whatever you like) to adorn the top of the tart. Or use a sharp paring knife to cut out a lemon shape about 4 inches long and 3 inches wide, and a pair of oval leaves. Score the leaves lightly with the blade of the knife to resemble the ribs. Place the dough cut-outs on a rimmed baking sheet and refrigerate until the tart shell has finished baking.
Set the cut-out stars in the oven and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the edges are lightly browned.Transfer the cut-outs to a rack to cool.
* I made instead a lattice design. It is ok if it breaks a little and your pieces are uneven when you place on the top of the ricotta filling. It will expand while it’s baking and connect and you won’t know the difference.
Ricotta Chocolate Chip Filling
2 lbs ricotta
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, separated
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon ground espresso
zest of one lemon
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
In a large bowl, mix the ricotta with the two egg yolks and sugar. In a large mixing bowl, beat the egg whites until nice and fluffy. Fold the egg whites, espresso, lemon zest, and vanilla into the ricotta mixture. Fold in the chocolate chips.
Poor the filling gently into the crostata. Flatten it out with a spoon or a spatula. Set the crostata in the oven and bake at 325 for about 30 to 35 minutes, until the filling is just set. Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature on a rack. Carefully
remove the fluted ring from around the crostata and transfer the crostata to a decorative serving plate. Dust the tart with confectioners’ sugar. Arrange the cookie
cut-outs as you please on top of the tart and serve.
Do Ahead: The pastry dough may be made up to 2 days in advance and refrigerated
or up to 1 month in advance and frozen. Bring the dough to room temperature or
slightly cooler before rolling it out.
slightly cooler before rolling it out.
Here is the dough all rolled out and ready to be put into the tarte pan.
Roll the dough over your rolling pin.
Now you carefully unroll it into the tarte pan.
Trim the excess dough. I used the dough from that to make the lattice design.
Here is the ricotta filling while I’m folding in the egg yolks.
Now the egg whites and lemon zest get folded in.
Gorgeous and ready to be poured into the crostata.
The lattice is ready to be placed on top of the filling.
Here is the bella crostata ready to be baked. Mmm!
Thank you for stopping by today! I know there are more snow storms arriving tonight. Please stay safe and warm.
I LOVE hearing from you and reading your comments. They make me SMILE!!:)