Growing up in an Italian family meant every holiday was always filled with delicious classic foods and desserts. My great-grandma and grandma used to make an array of desserts for each holiday and this Ricotta Pie was one of them. I hadn’t had in so many years, but I’ve always remembered it and wanted to make it myself this year. I called up my Grandma for the recipe and tips and got right to work making this classic Easter dessert!
It’s called Ricotta Pie, but honestly, it’s not really a pie, it’s definitely more like a cheesecake, which is fine by me! The special thing about this recipe too is the crust. You will notice it is not a traditional pie crust recipe, it’s sweeter, has baking powder, and no butter. It’s the same type of dough that is used in Shadone, which is a meat pie and another traditional Italian Easter recipe.
If you are worried about making the crust, you could use traditional pie crust if desired and given the cheesecake-like texture of this dessert, I bet even graham cracker crumb crust would be okay too! When I made this recipe, I actually made a bit too much of the crust and it ended up being a bit thicker than desired, so I’ve tweaked the recipe a tad so you won’t end up with too much.
Oh, and one really important tip here is that you must drain the ricotta cheese before mixing up the pie. This step is crucial! You can use a cheese cloth to wring out the liquid or let it sit in a strainer for a couple of hours, pushing down with a fork every so often to push out the liquid. I also added a couple of tablespoons of flour to my version to help it be a bit more stable!
My family never did the chocolate ganache on top either, but I wanted to make this pie a bit prettier and who doesn’t love chocolate ganache?! If you want to skip that part though, it’s not required!
For the dough:
- 1 large egg
- 3 tablespoons milk
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1 1/2-2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
For the ricotta pie filling:
- 2 1/4 pounds ricotta cheese, drained well (see note)
- 1 cup sugar
- 4 large egg yolks
- 1 large egg (with white)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2/3 cup mini chocolate chips
- optional ganache topping (1 cup semi-sweet chocolate plus 2 tablespoons milk or heavy cream)
For the crust:
- To make the crust, add all of the ingredients to a food processor and process until well-combined. Alternatively if you do not have a food processor, beat together the egg, oil, milk, vanilla extract, and the sugar in a mixing bowl with a hand mixer until smooth. In another bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, and the salt. Add in with the wet ingredients and mix until combined. If dough seems too sticky, add 1/4-1/2 cup more.
- Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and knead for 1 minute. Roll out the dough with a floured rolling pin into an even layer until it is approximately 1/4-inch thick. Arrange the dough in a pie dish. Fold the edges of the crust into whatever design you desire and set aside.
For the pie:
- Preheat oven 350 degrees F.
- In a mixing bowl, beat together the ricotta cheese, sugar, egg yolks and egg, and the vanilla until smooth. Then mix in the baking powder, flour, and cinnamon. Stir in the chocolate chips. Pour the mixture into the pie dish over the crust.
- Bake the pie for approximately 40-45 minutes. The pie will still be jiggly in the center and will set as it cools.
- If you’d like to add the ganache on top, add the chocolate chips and milk to a microwave-safe bowl. Heat in 30 second increments, stirring well in between until melted and smooth. Spread on top of the pie after it has cooled for 30 minutes or so. Garnish with extra chocolate chips if desired. Let pie cool completely before cutting, at least 2 hours. Cover with foil and chill leftovers.
Make sure your ricotta is drained well before preparing the filling. I recommend either using a cheese cloth or let the cheese sit in a fine mesh sieve for an hour or two to drain, pressing down with a fork every so often.