Italian Ricotta Pie with Candied Pistachios PRINT
- YIELD: 8-10 servings
This is a traditional Italian Eastern dessert. I adapted this recipe based on several versions I’ve seen on the internet. Instead of using chocolates, chips, I decided to make my own candied pecans which I added towards the end of baking. I also leaned towards an almond flavor, with orange zest— which I think complemented the similar taste of pistachios. I made a pie crust, using Organic Pastry Flour (has whole wheat in it). This dessert is not over-the-top sweet. The texture of the ricotta, candied citrus peels and the rest of the extracts were a unique dish that was well received at our Easter dinner. I hope that you like it, too. I will show you how I made the whole dish on my food blog at: http://foodiewife-kitchen.blogspot.com/2010/04/italian-sweet-ricotta-pie-with-candied.html
|For the crust:|
|3||cups all-purpose flour (I used organic whole wheat pastry flour0|
|1||teaspoon baking powder|
|1½||sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter (chilled)|
|3 to 4||tablespoons ice water, or as much as needed|
|For the filling:|
|1½||lbs of ricotta|
|5||large eggs (room temperature)|
|1||teaspoon almond extract OR|
|2||teaspoons Almond Emulsion (available from King Arthur Flour.com)|
|zest of one orange|
|½||cup of diced candied orange peel|
|¼||cup finely chopped candied pistachios|
NOTE: The key to making tender pie crusts is to work with very cold butter, and don’t overwork the dough!
Allowing the dough to rest, helps to relax the gluten, too.
For the crust:
Combine the flour*, sugar, salt and baking powder in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse several times to combine.
Add the butter and pulse about 10 times until the dough becomes pebbly in texture. DO NOT OVERWORK THE DOUGH! YOU WANT TO SEE BITS OF BUTTER.
Add the eggs and pulse repeatedly until the dough begins to stick together.
Slowly add the ice water (NOT COLD TAP WATER) by the tablespoonful, while using a few long pulses. Add more drops of ice water as necessary, until the dough holds together well.
Invert the dough onto a floured work surface and divide in half.
Form a ball out of each half and flatten into a disc; wrap each disc in plastic wrap and refrigerate while preparing the filling. (Dough can be refrigerated for up to 2 days before continuing.)
If you don’t have a processor, combine the dry ingredients in a bowl; add chunks of chilled butter, and using a pastry blender or two forks, chop the butter until it resembles little pebbles. At this point, add the eggs and ice water, and stir with a spoon until the dough begins to form. Using your hands and working the dough as little as possible, transfer it to a lightly floured surface. Knead until the dough holds together. Divide the dough into two equal balls and flatten into discs; wrap each disc in plastic and refrigerate while preparing the filling. (Dough can be refrigerated for up to 2 days before continuing.)
I will freeze the second pie crust dough for a future pie recipe, as I only needed one crust for this dessert.
NOTE: I used Organic Pastry Flour, which has more wheat flour. The crust was very tender and a bit healthier than all-purpose flour. Either way will work fine.
For the filling:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
It is best to place the ricotta into a fine sieve (or cheese cloth) over a bowl, overnight, so that all the liquid will drain out. You want dry ricotta for best results.
In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat the ricotta with the sugar until very smooth.
Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla, almond extract and cinnamon.
Stir in the candied fruit, and the zest of one orange
Pour the filling into the pie shell. Sprinkle the top with cinnamon and swirl it with the tip of a knife.
TIP: I like to use a pie shield, or folded coils of foil around the pie crust to prevent it from darkening too much. I remove it halfway through the baking for a light golden crust.
Bake the pie for 45 minutes*, or until ricotta is set and toothpick comes out clean. Let cool and chill.
*25 minutes into the baking, I sprinkled chopped candied pistachios (made with sugar, water, orange juice and a little almond extract). The crunch and depth of flavor was a perfect finish to this sweet pie!