Monday, November 16, 2009

Nonna Elvira’s Torta di Ricotta

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This is a classic Roman Jewish recipe from my friend Anna Rosa, whose family hails from the Eternal City.  Anna Rosa, a member of my Italian chit-chat group, fondly remembers her grandmother Elvira preparing this dessert, which is kind of a cross between a cheesecake and a custard.

Raisins and grated citrus peel are the traditional ingredients, but you could switch it up any number of ways by adding chocolate chips, nuts or candied citrus peel.  I didn’t have the large 11 or 12-inch cake pan called for, so I used a clay paella pan instead. It meant baking a little longer than normal and a little more difficulty in turning upside down after it cooled, but a sprinkling of powdered cocoa can cover up any mishaps that may occur. It would be much simpler though if you bake it in a large spring form pan. If it’s a smaller diameter than 11 or 12 inches, just leave it in the oven a little longer.

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Nonna Elvira’s Torta di Ricotta

printable recipe here

3 pounds ricotta, drained

8 T. sugar

8 eggs

pinch of salt

1 t. vanilla

1/4 t. cinnamon

1 1/4 cup raisins, soaked in rum for an hour, then drained

grated rind of one lemon and one orange

butter for greasing pan

breadcrumbs or matzo meal

Drain the ricotta for several hours or preferably overnight in a cheesecloth-lined colander.

Prepare the cake pan. I used a clay paella pan that measured about 11 inches in diameter, but a large spring form pan would be best. Butter the pan generously and sprinkle with breadcrumbs. (I used matzo meal instead.)

Using a fork, break up the ricotta in a bowl and mix in the sugar and eggs, one at a time. Do not use an electric mixer or you’ll incorporate too much air.  Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well with the fork.

Place the pan in a bagna maria (hot water bath) and bake at 350 degrees.  Bake for one hour to one hour and  15 minutes, depending on thickness of pan.

Let it cool, then flip upside down onto serving plate and sprinkle with powdered cocoa or confectioner’s sugar. Decorate with fresh fruit. 

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Stacey Snacks said...

This is by far, my favorite dessert in the world.
I love it. I must've been a Roman Jew in my former life!

Proud Italian Cook said...

My hubby's favorite desserts always consist of ricotta. I'll have to try this custard-like crustless version, we both would love it. I just made him a ricotta pie last week with a crust, mini chocolate chips and orange citron. I can't make it often, he has no self contol!

pinknest said...

i LOVE ricotta desserts! yours is stunning. and i am in love with your clay paella pan.

Daniela said...

Che buona la torta di nonna Elvira.
Ciao Daniela

Morta Di Fame said...

Anything that Nonna makes must be great! How do I become part of the Italian chit chat group?

lisaiscooking said...

This sounds delicious with the raisins and zest! I like that the crust is light with just crumbs or matzo meal too. Lovely dessert.

Claudia said...

Gorgeous. I need to join your chit-cat group now. I would love to feature it in the Examiner and link back to you (after I've made it). We make something very similar in our house - but nt the same crust. Oh what happy memories.

♥peachkins♥ said...

beautiful, I wish I could have a slice

Danielle said...

I have never heard of or seen this dessert but man would i love to try it. it looks wonderful

Cathy said...

I bought something like this in a deli in New York. OMG, this could be the recipe I've been looking for.

Tania said...

Morbida e deliziosa, adoro i dolci con la ricotta! Molto bella anche la decorazione.

daniela said...

anche la mia nonna si chiamava elvira, ma lei era livornese e molto esperta nelle zuppe di pesce e nelle frittelle!!! questa tua torta però è splendida e penso che la proverò presto. Ciao e un bacio

Betty said...

looks gorgeous! i love ricotta hehe

Anonymous said...

What a gift to have my great grandmother represented here. Though one of the few things I can remember about her is her love for coffee... my father frequently tells us how this ricotta cake was the best thing he ever ate. Sadly I was not able to experience it made by her I feel honored to see her recipe here. I am exited to make this cake with my mom and continue the tradition.
Thanks you,
Alicia Kohn

zurin said...

This cake looks so gorgeously yummy. My favourite cakes are cheesecake an I know that I will love this one! tq for shaing the recipe :))

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

It looks delicios and I love how large this is Linda! It's a perfect dessert for a big family gathering.

pityenlacocina said...

i love love looove ricotta, and this cake looks so lovely, cant wait to try it, well done! cheers from london

heshaojie said...
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isa said...

Your torta di ricotta sounds very delicious! I love ricotta desserts!