Ricotta and pear crostata with cocoa crust. A tart with an oil based cocoa short pastry and a filling made of sweetened ricotta and pears. A light, crumbly, delightful Italian dessert, perfect for Sunday dinner or Easter time.
Cocoa crust crostata
As a matter of fact, crostata is my favorite Italian dessert. It is basically a short pastry tart, usually filled with jam, and with a lattice top. You can make pastafrolla (short pastry) either with butter, or oil, and also adding some cocoa to the dough. This cocoa dough is quite easy to make. I like to make it by hand, but you can use a stand mixer or a food processor. Unlike the butter short pastry, the ones made with oil do not need to be refrigerated before using.
The ingredients for the crust
In order of appearance:
- 1 egg + 1 egg yolk
- 100 g cane sugar or regular sugar
- 90 g vegetable oil or light olive oil
- 40 g unsweetened cocoa
- 220 g flour 0 (in alternative 00 flour, all-purpose, or spelt)
- 1 tsp baking powder
- In a bowl add the whole egg, the egg yolk, and the sugar. Blend with a fork.
- Add the oil, and stir. Then, add the cocoa and stir to combine.
- Sift the flour with the baking powder. Gradually add it to the mixture and stir with the fork until a dough begins to form. TIP: According to your altitude, you might have to add less or more flour. Start from 220 g and keep adding in small amounts until no longer sticky up to 250 g.
- Move the dough onto a lightly floured pastry board and work it with your hands until smooth and no longer sticky and you can form a ball.
- Take out ¼ of the dough and set it aside (you will use it to make the lattice top). Roll the remaining pastry in between two pieces of parchment paper to a thickness of about 3 mm.
Ricotta and pear filling
In Italy, and most specifically in Rome, it is a classic to make ricotta desserts for Easter. The filling for this crostata with cocoa crust is creamy, not too sweet, and absolutely delicious. Ricotta and pear is a match made in heaven, and the addition of cinnamon rounds up the flavor. Taste it for sweetness, if you like it sweeter add more icing sugar. You can omit the cinnamon, or increase the amount if you particularly like it. You can also add a squeeze of lemon juice to the cubed pear.
Ingredients for the filling
- 350 g ricotta
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons icing sugar
- 1 big pear, cubed, or 2 small
- In a bowl, add the ricotta, the cinnamon, and icing sugar. With a fork or a whisk, work it until smooth and creamy. Add the cubed pear and mix well.
- Remove the top parchment and invert the rolled dough onto a 24 cm (max 26 cm) greased tart pan (a tart pan with a removable bottom is the best). TIP: You can use a springform pan if you do not have a tart pan.
- Remove the parchment paper. With your fingers, press the dough gently into the bottom and up the edges of the pan, patching any holes that might occur. Then, with a sharp knife, remove the excess dough around the top edge and add it to the reserved dough. Prick the bottom of the pastry with a fork.
- Preheat the oven to 180° C (350° F).
- Fill the pastry shell with the ricotta mixture, smoothing the top.
- Take the piece of dough set aside and roll it out to a rectangle, about 3 mm thick. Cut strips of dough with a ravioli or pizza cutter, about 2 cm wide.
- Arrange the strips in a diamond pattern over the filling. TIP: Instead of the lattice strips, you can cut out shapes with a cookie cutter. Use an offset spatula to lift the shapes or strips and gently place them on the top.
- Bake in the preheated oven for about 30-35 minutes.
- Take out of the oven and let rest on a rack until it cools completely.
- Finally, dust the top with icing sugar.
Since it has ricotta in the filling, place any leftover in the fridge and consume in the next 2-3 days. As the days pass, the short pastry becomes less crumbly and softer, due to the moisture in the filling, but still delicious.
The moment we have been all waiting for!
The aroma alone is making me want a bite. Just by the way the fork goes in tells me that the crust is going to be delicious. My first mouthful reveals the most delicate melt in your mouth texture. The beautiful richness of the cocoa comes through beautifully, and together with the richness of the ricotta and freshness of the pear balances things out beautifully. Sweet but not too sweet that's the way I like it!