Roman Ricotta Cheese Crostada with Cherries and Chocolate

(Recipe slightly modified from “King Solomon’s Table” by Joan Nathan)

It is believed that the Jews in Sicily learned to make whey cheese and carried that knowledge with them to Rome.  The cake is still made today in the Jewish Ghetto in Rome.


Ingredients – Crust

½ c. granulated sugar

12 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature

Advertisement for the J

2 large egg yolks

1½ c. unbleached all-purpose flour

Pinch of salt

Canola oil, for oiling pan


Ingredients – Filling

½ c. dried cherries

½ c. freshly squeezed orange juice (about

1 large orange or 2 

medium oranges)

2½ c. whole milk ricotta cheese

4 large eggs, separated

¾ c. granulated sugar

1 tbsp. unbleached all-purpose flour

Finely grated zest of 1 medium lemon

1 tsp. vanilla extract

½-1 tsp. ground cinnamon

½ c. bittersweet chocolate, chopped, or


chocolate chips

½ c. sour cherry preserves (or cherry



Directions – Crust

Put the sugar, butter, egg yolks, flour and salt in a large bowl and either rub everything together with your fingers or quickly pulse ingredients in food processor fitted with a steel blade just until dough begins to come together …  then stop!

Form into a ball (do not work dough more) and wrap in plastic wrap; refrigerate for 30 minutes or up to one day.

Heat oven to 375 degrees, place rack in top third of oven, and lightly oil a 10-inch tart pan with removable bottom.

On a lightly floured counter, roll out dough into a 13-inch circle. Gently drape dough over rolling pin and carefully set into prepared tart pan. Gently press dough up against the sides of the pan, and trim edges with a knife. Prick dough a few times with a fork and bake for 15 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack.


Directions – Filling

While crust cools, place dried cherries in a small bowl and cover with heated orange juice. Let plump for a few minutes while making remaining filling. Drain cherries and set aside.

Stir together ricotta cheese, egg yolks, sugar, flour, lemon zest, vanilla and cinnamon with a spoon in a medium mixing bowl; reserve.

In the bowl of a standing mixer with a whisk attachment, beat egg whites until almost stiff peaks form. Gently fold egg whites into ricotta cheese mixture. Fold in plumped and drained cherries and chopped chocolate and chocolate chips.

Spread cherry preserves over cooled crust, then evenly spoon filling mixture over preserves, smoothing over the top with the back of a spoon. Bake in the top third of the oven for 40-50 minutes, or until the center is set and golden brown. Or do as the Romans do, and let it get slightly burned on the top.

Makes 12 servings.