Thursday, November 29, 2018

Raspberries and Cheese for The Season

Let's visit with the authors of a cookbook called Baking By Hand written by Andy and Jackie King. Andy told Tonia's Kitchen they emphasize working with fresh, high-quality ingredients, and one of their featured recipes includes a really yummy treat for the holidays!  It's a Chocolate Ricotta Tart that's made with local, hand-whipped ricotta cheese.  Andy says they start with a chocolate short-dough baked into small pastry shells.  They take the fresh ricotta, and combine it with vanilla and a natural sweetener like Agave. The cheese takes on a very creamy texture that's absolutely delicious!  Fill the shells with the mixture and top with fresh raspberry and chocolate shavings, and that's bound to please almost every dessert lover!

Chocolate Short Dough
5 oz/140 g flour
2.8 oz/80 g unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 tsp/2 g fine sea salt
5 oz/140 g unsalted butter, softened
6 oz/175 g granulated sugar
1/4 tsp/4 ml vanilla extract
0.4 oz/11 g egg yolks
1 egg white, lightly beaten

Raspberry Jam
2 quarts/2 L raspberries
⅓ cup/80 ml water
1 tbsp/15 ml lemon juice
1 (1.75 oz/50 g) package pectin, such as Ball®
Original Fruit Pectin
42 oz/1 kg granulated sugar

Vanilla Bean Ricotta Filling
1 lb/450 g ricotta cheese (high quality, whole milk self-draining, ricotta cheese such as Calabro Ricotta cheese)
3.5 oz/100 g granulated sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
56 fresh raspberries
1 bar of your favorite chocolate, for making chocolate curls

For the crust, mix the flour, cocoa powder and salt together. Next, combine the butter, sugar and vanilla extract in a bowl. Mix it with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until it is smooth and there are no lumps and a smooth paste has formed. 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 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. If it does, however, it is easy to mold 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 ⅛ inch/3 mm on a floured surface and cut the circles out with a 4 1/2-inch to 5-inch/11 to 12-cm circular cutter. Immediately set these circles into eight ungreased 4-inch/10-cm 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°F/190°C 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 tart 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. 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 the jam 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 tartlets

Fill each tart shell with 2 ounces/50 g of the ricotta filling. The filling should come up to the edge of the crust. Place seven raspberries around the outer edge of the filling, or in any way you find pleasing, and use a vegetable peeler to shave chocolate curls, arranging them in the center of each tart. 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.