Italian Ricotta pie is a traditional Easter treat and one my mom remembers her grandma making every year. I’ve changed the recipe to a tart with lemon and mascarpone for a deliciously creamy, citrus-y sweet treat which is the perfect end to a holiday dinner.
How is everyone doing? I’ve been stress baking and thinking about Easter dinner ideas. And since Easter is coming soon as I write this, that means it is time to share my Italian ricotta tart.
Italian Easter Pie
While I have made a fair number of different versions of ricotta pie over the years, I really love this dessert as an elegant tart! It has a lightness and restraint (since the filling isn’t too tall) which means I can enjoy a slice after a big holiday dinner without feeling overstuffed.
It starts with a tart dough, either Pate Sucree as listed in the recipe or Pasta Frolla (check out my step by step on that recipe), which is prebaked to keep it crisp. And then it’s filled with a smooth and creamy custard mixture of Italian cheeses before being baked until the custard is just done.
Oh, and the citrus! Lemon zest and lemon juice together give the dessert a lovely zing which pairs so well with a cup of espresso. Yum!
What are the ingredients?
- Tart shell – I used a pate sucree, so for this you will need flour, sugar, egg yolk, butter, and cream.
- Ricotta – Use the best whole milk ricotta you can find. For the best texture, use a cheese without stabilizers or gums.
- Mascarpone – Creamy, smooth, and rich! This makes the filling even better.
- Lemon – For the photos I used Meyer lemons (since I had them in the house). Either Meyer or standard lemons are wonderful.
- Other Filling Ingredients – To round things out, you will need sugar, eggs, vanilla, salt, cinnamon, and a touch of honey.
How do you make it?
To make an Italian ricotta pie first make the pastry and blind bake it until golden brown. Then mix the filling of ricotta, mascarpone, sugar, eggs, and spices until smooth. Pour into the crust and bake until the filling is set.
This is a shortcrust pastry which bakes up firm, making it excellent for tart crusts.
You start by mixing the dry ingredients – flour, sugar, salt – and then cutting in the butter. Once you have a crumbly dough with no big chunks of butter left, add the egg yolk and cream. Then form it into a disc and let it rest in the fridge.
After a rest, roll it out and press it into the tart pan. I like to make sure it is well pressed into the corners and up against the sides. Now use your rolling pin and roll it over the top to cut off the edges.
Now it’s into the freezer for a second rest (this dough needs plenty of beauty sleep! 🙂 ). Once it’s frozen it’s time to heat the oven and then fill in the pan with foil and pie weights. Bake until light golden brown.
After the essay on the crust, the filling is easy! Just make sure everything is room temperature and mix low and slow.
First, gently mix together the cheeses, sugar, and salt. Then add the eggs and get them fully mixed in. Last, add the lemon, vanilla, honey, and cinnamon.
Once your filling is mixed, pour it into the baked tart shell. (which can be warm or room temperature) And bake the filling until set.
What does set mean? It means the edges are puffed and don’t move when you shake the pan but the middle is still wiggles.
If you try my recipe for Italian Ricotta Pie, I would love to hear from you in the comments with your experience and rating! And I’m happy to answer any questions you might have.
– Happy Baking, Annemarie
Italian Lemon Ricotta Pie
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3 tbsp superfine sugar
- 1/4 tsp table salt
- 8 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch chunks
- 1 egg yolk
- 3-4 tbsp heavy cream
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk ricotta, drained and at room temperature
- 3 oz mascarpone, room temperature
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 tsp table salt
- 1 large egg + 1 yolk, room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp lemon zest
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/2 tbsp honey
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- Make the Dough: Add flour, sugar, and salt to a food processor. Pulse once or twice to mix them. Add the butter. Pulse for 5-6 one second pulses, so that the butter is cut up without large chunks. Add the egg yolk, heavy cream, and vanilla. Process in 2-3 10 second pulses.
- Watch for the dough to ball up and come together and stop once it has. If it still looks dry, add one more tablespoon of cream and pulse a few times to mix it in.
- Chill the Dough: Once the dough has begun to come together, transfer the dough to a bowl and use your hands to shape it into a disc.
- Cover the disc with plastic wrap and let chill for 1-2 hours, or up to 3 days. If chilling more than 1 hour, let the dough warm up and become pliable before rolling. This may take up to 30 minutes.
- Roll the Dough: Before rolling out the dough, butter the tart pan.
- Roll out the dough on a floured board until it is large enough to fit the pan. Once the dough is pressed into the pan, use the rolling pin over the top the tart pan to neatly cut the edges.
- Press holes into the dough all over the surface with a fork. Freeze the dough in the pan for 30 minutes.
- Heat oven to 325F.
- Blind Bake the Crust: Line the frozen dough with foil and fill with pie weights.
- Bake the crust for 30 minutes, or until light brown. Remove the baked crust from the oven, take off the pie weights and let cool while you make the filling.
- In the bowl of a mixer, combine the ricotta, mascarpone, sugar, and salt. If you are using a standing mixer use the flat beater. Beat on low until just combined.
- Add the egg and egg yolk. Mix in on low for a few seconds. Then scrape the sides and mix for 30 seconds.
- Add vanilla, lemon zest, lemon juice, honey, and cinnamon. Mix on low until blended.
- Scrape filling into baked crust and smooth out the top.
- Bake tart for 24-28 minutes, or until the edges and set and a little puffed while the center is still jiggly.
- Move to a rack and let to room temperature. Then refrigerate and cool for at least 3 hours up to 1 day.
- Superfine Sugar: To make superfine sugar from granulated sugar, put the sugar in the blender and puree for about 30 seconds.
- Timing: While you can make the whole recipe in one day, it is much easier to spread it out over a few days. Make the tart dough on day one and let it rest in the fridge overnight. Then bake the crust and filling on day two. And let it fully chill and rest in the fridge overnight before enjoying on day three.
- Internal Temperature: As extra insurance against overcooking, you can check the temperature of the pie with an instant read thermometer. You want the filling to reach 150F.
- Draining the Ricotta: Make sure to drain the ricotta as it warms up to room temperature. You can drain it longer if you wish, but I find an hour is usually enough.
- Mixing the Filling: Use low speed when mixing and only mix as much as needed to combine the ingredients. This is a type of cheesecake so you don't want to add too much air to the filling.
- For Even Sides: Once you cut off the edges of the pastry press them up so they are a little bit taller than the tart pan sides. This will counteract shrinkage in baking.