Chocolate-Raspberry Ricotta Tart
Ricotta cheese is fantastic for both sweet and savory dishes. The quality of the cheese matters a lot, especially when using it in pastries, so we use a beautiful whole-milk ricotta made in Connecticut with milk from Vermont cows called Calabro. This cheese is packed in a distinctive plastic-covered, self-draining tin, which helps to make sure most of the water has drained off, leaving a thick ricotta that is not grainy at all. It has a wonderfully clean, fresh milk taste and is a great example of how a high-quality ingredient can make all the difference in the end product. When paired with some sugar and fresh vanilla bean, it’s closer to vanilla ice cream than to any cheese. We eat it by the spoonful!
Makes eight 4-inch fluted tartlets (available at most large house wares stores)
Chocolate Short Dough
5 oz flour
2.8 oz unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 tsp sea salt
5 oz unsalted butter, softened
6 oz granulated sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
.4 oz egg yolks
1 egg white, lightly beaten
2 quarts raspberries
1/3 cup water
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 (1.75 oz) package pectin, such as Ball Original Pectin
42 oz granulated sugar
Vanilla Bean Ricotta Filling
1 pound ricotta cheese (self-draining, if possible)
3.5 oz granulated sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
56 fresh raspberries
Chocolate curls, (optional) one bar of your favorite chocolate. You will only need about 1/2 oz of the curls to garnish the middle of each tart. Use a carrot peeler to peel of curls of chocolate.
For the crust:
Mix the flour, cocoa powder, and salt together. Next, combine the butter, sugar, and vanilla extract into a bowl with the sugar. Mix it with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until it is smooth and there are no lumps. Then add the egg yolks and mix to combine. Add the dry ingredients and mix until all the ingredients are evenly combined to form a very dark, almost black, tart dough. Chill the dough for at about 30 minutes before rolling out. This dough can also be chilled overnight, but it will need to be warmed up before rolling it out or it will crack. However, if it does, it is easy to mold it back together by pushing it back with your fingertips. It will also freeze well wrapped tightly in plastic wrap.
Roll the dough out to about 1/8 inch on a floured surface and cut the circles out with a 4 1/2- to 5-inch circular cutter. Immediately set these circles into eight ungreased 4-inch fluted tartlet pans. Mold the dough to the shape of the pans trimming the excess dough all around the edge, making it flush with the top. Chill the tart dough for at least 1 hour or up to overnight. After it is chilled, prick it with a fork before baking to decrease the bubbling up of the dough as well as to ward off shrinkage during the baking process.
Preheat the oven to 375 with a rack in the middle. These tart shells do not need to be blind baked with pie weights. The tart dough stays put during baking. Bake the shells for 16 minutes, rotating the tray of tarts shells once after 8 minutes. Remove the shells from the oven and let sit for 2 minutes. Take the egg white and brush it onto the surface of the shells including the sides, then put it back in the oven for 2 minutes. This helps to seal the surface of the shell to ward off sogginess brought on by the wet filling. Cool completely before use.
For the raspberry jam:
Combine the raspberries, water, lemon juice, and pectin in a sauce pot. Stir and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring as needed to prevent scorching. Then add the sugar and stir to dissolve. Bring it all back to a rolling boil that cannot be stirred down. Boil like that for 1 minute. If you fail to boil it this hard, the pectin may not activate fully and the jam will be runny. Skim the scum and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
For the vanilla bean ricotta filling:
Put the cheese, sugar, and vanilla bean seeds in a food processor. Process the mixture until smooth and somewhat shiny. Give it a stir and process a little more. No lumps or graininess should be present. Use immediately or store for up to 4 days in the refrigerator.
Assembling the tart:
Spread one tablespoon of raspberry jam on the bottom of the cooled tart shell. Fill each tart shell with 2 oz of the ricotta filling. The filling should come up to the edge of the crust. Place 7 raspberries around the outer edge of the filling or in any way you find pleasing, and garnish with a few chocolate curls in the center of the tart in a small mound. Keep chilled until serving. These can be made up to 1 day in advance. If there is any extra filling and raspberries, feel free to just gobble them up together. You won’t be sorry.