Chocolate ricotta fudge cake with beer caramel

(Chocolate ricotta fudge cake with beer caramel)

After spending two weeks in Hobart, I return feeling somewhat re-energised. It’s all about a change of pace, experiencing great generosity, taking the M and E out of Team, and just eating well. Really well. Followed up with a run in 2’C weather with the wind whipping at your ears and legs. Turns out, it doesn’t take a lot to make things a little bit better.

So now I’m ready to get back into a commercial kitchen. Trouble is, I don’t know which kitchen.

I started baking with ricotta when I got back, having been inspired by the great ricotta and prune pastries at Pigeon Hole. This chocolate ricotta cake is one of several happy experiments. Remind me to also tell you soon about ricotta buttercream and ice-cream!

The chocolate ricotta cake is based on Tartine’s devils food cake recipe. The fudge frosting is like this but omit some of the caster sugar and increase the cocoa powder plus a pinch of salt. The beer caramel is adapted from here. Assembled cake then goes into mouth. No other instructions necessary.

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And now for something a little different. Sweet kale and ricotta pie

(Spring kale)

In the midst of all my recent Christmas baking, it suddenly hit me that concrete plans for our family’s Christmas dessert had yet to be made or discussed. Being the only regular baker in a family of diabetics, non-dessert eaters and the very health conscious, I have a feeling my contribution will end up being.. salad.

Well, I kid, but only just. I’m tempted to throw them for a loop and serve a piece of dessert pie disguised as a savoury dish.

This kale and ricotta pie was baked recently when I found myself in possession of too much kale. A dessert based around kale may seem a little strange but in fact this recipe stems from a traditional French pastry called Tourte de Blettes. Make it when you feel like having something a little different or when you think you aren’t getting your recommended daily dose of greens.

And now, back to more regular baking. What are you serving for Christmas this year?

Kale and ricotta pie :
(based on a recipe from Heart of the artichoke and other kitchen journeys by David Tanis)

For the dough:
2 cups plain flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1 stick (113g) cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon milk
grated zest of 1/2 lemon

To make the dough, in the bowl of an electric mixer, using the flat beater, mix the dry ingredients on low speed. Add the butter and mix for about 2 minutes more, until crumbly. Add the egg mixture and the lemon zest and mix another minute, until the dough almost comes together. Divide the dough into two, one portion twice as big as the other. Flatten each into a disc and chill, tightly wrapped, for at least an hour.

For the filling :
1 large bunch chard, trimmed, ribs discarded, and cut into 1/2-inch wide strips (about 4 cups) – or 4 cups of chopped kale (both the leaves and young stems)
1 cup whole-milk ricotta
1 egg
1/3 cup sugar
grated zest of 1/2 lemon
1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 cup raisins, soaked in warm water until plumped
1/4 cup pine nuts

To make the filling, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Blanch the chard for 1 minute; drain well. Let cool, and squeeze out any liquid.

Preheat the oven to 175’C. In a small bowl, whisk together the ricotta, egg, sugar, lemon zest and spices.

Dust a pastry cloth with flour and roll out the larger portion of dough into a circle 2 inches larger than the diameter of your 9- or 10-inch springform pan. Roll the dough onto the rolling pin, then carefully unroll it over the pan and gently press it into place, so that it comes about 2 inches up the sides of the pan. The dough is fairly soft but don’t worry if it tears. Just patch it up with scraps of dough and it’s barely noticeable once baked.

Drain the raisins, mix them with the greens, pine nuts and ricotta mixture and spread over the dough in the pan.

Roll the second piece of dough into a 1/8-inch thick circle. Place it on top of the filling, trimming and crimping the edges. Bake the pie for 40 to 50 minutes, until the crust is golden. aligncenter size-full wp-image-5936/a

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