This crostata recipe comes from Domenica Marchetti. And it graced our dessert table on Easter this year (along with a bowl of marinated strawberries and way too many jelly beans and chocolate Easter eggs. The lemon flavor in this dessert is subtle, but adds a soft tang that gives it an elegant distinction. And the crust – oh my, the crust is so delicious I will be using it as my tart crust from here on out. The recipe makes more dough than you will need, as Domenica points out. You’ll be glad though, when you taste the wonderful treats that you can make from the excess dough (hang in there, it’s coming at the end of the post.)
For this crostata though, I first drained the ricotta. Try to find freshly made ricotta if possible, rather than a supermarket brand. I place a coffee filter in a colander, add the ricotta, then cover the top with plastic wrap and put a weight over it (something like a heavy can). I let it drain overnight in the refrigerator, but if you’re pressed for time, even a few hours will help.
At least one cup of liquid came out – that would be liquid that would otherwise give you a soggy crust.
The mascarpone in the recipe adds a creaminess that ordinary ricotta tarts don’t have.
The dough is really easy to work, so the lattice strips don’t fall apart as in other recipes I’ve used.
There’s not a lot of sugar in the filling, so a dusting of powdered sugar over the top adds a nice touch of sweetness. And it will cover up any cracks that may appear in your lattice work.
Remember those leftover dough scraps I mentioned? Domenica suggests you make cookies with them and sandwich them together with a bit of Nutella. Ottima idea Domenica!
Next time I may vary the filling and use some dulce de leche or homemade jam as well. But these Nutella ones were a bit hit and disappeared in no time. I have another batch all ready to go, to share with students in a class tomorrow.
1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 large whole egg
2 large egg yolks
For the filling
8 oz fresh sheep’s milk ricotta or well-drained cow’s milk ricotta
8 oz mascarpone
1 large whole egg
2 large egg yolks
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, plus more for serving (I like it a touch sweeter, so would add another 1/4 cup sugar – Ciao Chow Linda)
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
Finely grated zest of 1 organic lemon, plus 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
Make the dough
Put the flour, sugar, salt, and lemon zest in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Pulse briefly to combine. Distribute the butter around the bowl and pulse until the mixture is crumbly. Add the whole egg and egg yolks and process until the mixture just begins to clump together in the work bowl.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and briefly knead it together. Without overworking it, shape the dough into a disk, patting rather than kneading it. Wrap tightly in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or until well chilled.
Remove the chilled dough from the refrigerator and cut it into 2 portions, one slightly larger than the other. Rewrap the smaller portion and return it to the refrigerator. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the large portion into an 11-inch circle about 1/8 inch thick or slightly thicker. Carefully wrap the dough around the rolling pin and drape it over a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Gently press the dough into the bottom and up the sides of the pan. 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 to chill for 30 minutes.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Make the filling
In a large bowl, combine the ricotta, mascarpone, whole egg and yolks, sugar, vanilla and lemon juice and zest. Using a stand mixer or a handheld beater, beat the ingredients on high speed for about 1 minute, or until thoroughly combined and fluffy.
Assemble and bake the crostata
Remove the tart shell from the refrigerator. Scrape the filling into the shell and smooth it with a silicone spatula. Roll out the reserved piece of dough into a 10-inch round about 1/8 inch thick or slightly thicker, and cut it into 3/4-inch-wide strips with a fluted pastry wheel. Carefully place the strips over the filled tart shell in a lattice pattern, gently pressing the ends of the strips into the sides of the tart shell. Use any remaining strips to form a rim around the perimiter of the crostata.
Bake the crostata for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the crust is golden and the filling is puffed and just set. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool for 20 minutes, or until cool enough to handle. Remove the ring of the tart pan and let the crostata cool completely before transferring it to a decorative platter. Dust liberally with confectioners’ sugar just before serving.
NOTES This recipe will leave you with four leftover egg whites. Don’t toss them! Use them to make these meringue cookies. You will also likely have leftover dough. Gather the scraps into a ball, wrap and chill. Then use the dough to make these nutella sandwich cookies.If you don’t plan to serve the crostata within a couple of hours of baking, cover with foil and store it in the refrigerator. Let it come back to room temperature before serving (although it’s also really good cold).