Ricotta Tart with a Chocolate Crust

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This is a typical southern combination of flavours: ricotta, the burstingly ripe oranges and, every Italian’s obsession, chocolate. It is quite simple to make, so don’t be intimidated by the thought of the pastry crust. If it seems too soft, just add more flour as you’re rolling it, then lift it over your rolling pin and gently lower it into the tin. If it breaks, just patchwork it in.

Ingredients

  • 100 g ( oz) butter, slightly softened
  • 85 g (3 oz) caster (superfine) sugar
  • 150 g ( oz) plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 30 g (1 oz) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 egg, beaten

Filling

  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 140 g (5 oz) caster (superfine) sugar
  • 1 heaped teaspoon finely grated orange rind
  • 750 g (1 lb 10 oz) smooth ricotta cheese
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice

Method

To make the pastry base, use a food processor to mix together the butter and sugar until pale and creamy. Sift in the flour and cocoa and then beat in the egg to make a nice soft pastry. Scrape out onto plastic wrap, flatten into a disc and wrap up. Refrigerate for about an hour.

Preheat your oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4). Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured work surface until large enough to line a 24 cm ( inch) loose-bottomed tart tin or springform tin with high sides. Line the pastry with baking paper and baking beans or uncooked rice and bake for about 20 minutes. Remove the paper and beans and bake for a further 5 minutes to slightly dry the base.

For the filling, whisk together the eggs and sugar until thick and creamy. Whisk in the orange rind and ricotta until smooth. Whisk in the lemon and orange juice and scrape into your pastry case. Bake for about 30–40 minutes, or until the top seems set and is lightly golden here and there. Cool before cutting into portions. This can be served slightly warm, at room temperature or even cold from the fridge.