The theme for Dessert Wars for the month of April is vanilla. Dessert Wars is a baking competition that I have been participating in where each month they choose an ingredient and we bake something with that ingredient. For this month, we were asked to make something using vanilla, but the recipe had to have three components with vanilla in them.
From the moment I saw that vanilla was the ingredient, for some reason, ricotta pie stuck in my mind. I am not sure why. Maybe, it is because this is the month in which Easter usually falls, and as I have mentioned in some of my earlier posts, it is tradition for Italian-Americans to make many types of ricotta pies for Easter, some savory and some sweet. I decided to make a vanilla bean ricotta pie which has a vanilla bean pasta frolla dough, a creamy ricotta and mascarpone and vanilla bean filling, and is topped with a vanilla bean and white chocolate ganache. Sounds pretty good, huh? Well, I have to say it is pretty darn good. The vanilla beans impart a wonderful vanilla flavor that definitely beats vanilla extract in my opinion. It is hard for me to explain but I guess it is that you can really taste that it is pure vanilla.
If you look closely, you can see the beautiful little beans speckled throughout the pie.
The first 15 of us to comment on the Dessert Wars blog were also lucky enough to receive free vanilla beans from Brett at Beanilla! Thank you Brett! I was very excited because this was the first time I had used vanilla beans, and I have to say I am in love with them. They arrived in a vacuum sealed package, and the minute I opened the package, my house was filled with the most wonderful vanilla scent. And when I used them in my ricotta pie, the vanilla flavoring was sheer deliciousness.
To make this ricotta pie, the night before place one container (2 pounds) of ricotta in a coffee filter or a cheese cloth and place on a strainer over a bowl. Cover it and place in the refrigerator to allow it to drain overnight. This step is not completely necessary, but I think it gives the ricotta a better texture.
The next day, first you will want to make the pasta frolla. Pasta frolla is a sweet dough which is made like a pie crust but tastes more like a cookie. Remember to allow yourself time because the pasta frolla will need to sit in the refrigerator for, at least, 30 minutes. In a large bowl, mix together 2 cups of flour, 2 cups of cake flour, 1/2 cup of powdered sugar, 1/4 cup of sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. If you do not have cake flour, you can use 4 cups of flour.
Next, add 2 sticks of cold butter which has been cut into 1/2 inch pieces.
Mix until the mixture becomes crumbly and the butter is fully incorporated into the mixture. This will take about five minutes.
Next, add 3 beaten eggs and the seeds from one vanilla bean. If you do not have a vanilla bean, you can use 2 teaspoons of vanilla.
To use the vanilla beans, using a sharp knife, split the bean down the middle.
I found it easier to also cut the bean in half. Next, open each section of the bean and scrape out the seeds. The seeds are sort of clumpy and oily. Make sure to get out every little bit of the goodness:)
Mix all your ingredients until the dough comes together. Shape into a ball, cover in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for, at least, 30 minutes.
Next, you make the filling. In a large bowl, mix together the ricotta cheese (2 pounds), 1 cup of mascarpone cheese, 1/2 cup of powdered sugar, 2/3 cup of granulated sugar, 3 eggs, and the seeds of one vanilla bean (or 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract).
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Remove your pasta frolla from the refrigerator and cut into two pieces.
On a lightly floured surface, roll one piece out until it is slightly larger than your pie plate or tart pan. This recipe will make one pie and one tart or one pie and one smaller pie.
Using your rolling pin, roll the dough onto your rolling pin.
Then unroll the dough over your greased pan.
Press dough genlty into the pan. If using a tart pan, trim edges.
If using a pie plate, trim edges leaving a 1/2 inch rim around the plate.
Then tuck the edges under and form into a design with your fingers. Repeat this with the other piece of dough.
Fill your pie plate and tart pan with the ricotta filling.
Bake in a 350 F degree oven for 45-55 minutes until the edges are golden brown and a toothpick inserted comes out clean. After about 30 minutes, check to see if the edges of the pie are getting too brown, if they are, tent some aluminum foil on top of them to prevent burning. The pie plate will take a little longer to cook that the tart pan. The filling will crack while it bakes which is why some people will cover these with a lattice of crust, but for this recipe, you will cover it with ganache, so don't worry about the cracking. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.
Here are my finished pies. You can also see my rinsed vanilla bean shells drying. If you rinse and air dry your vanilla beans and then place them in 1 cup or more of sugar in an air-tight container for about two weeks, you will have vanilla sugar that you can use in your coffee or tea or baking.
To make the ganache. Place an 11-ounce bag of white chocolate chips into a bowl.
In a small sauce pan, bring 1 cup of heavy cream, 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter, and the seeds and shell of 1/2 of a vanilla bean to a gentle boil on medium-low heat. Allow to simmer for a minute.
Fish out the vanilla bean shells and pour the hot mixture over the white chocolate and whisk until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth. Place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Place your cooled ricotta pie in the refrigerator too. The ganache will work better on a cold pie. The ricotta pie also tastes better chilled.
To decorate the pie with the ganache, you can either spread the ganache on like an icing or drizzle it on with a fork. If it is not thick enough, refrigerate for longer. If it gets too thick, place in the microwave for a few seconds until it loosens up. You can also just drizzle each slice of pie with the ganache before serving as I have done in the photos at the beginning of this post.Keep your pies refrigerated until ready to serve.
This is how it will look if you use a pie plate and spread the ganache on.
Baked in pie plate with ganache spread on.
This is how it will look if you use a tart pan and drizzle the ganache on.
Vanilla Bean Ricotta Pie The Garden of Yum
Vanilla bean pasta frolla:
2 cups of flour
2 cups of cake flour
(If you do not have cake flour, you can use 4 cups of regular flour.)
1/2 cup of confectioners sugar
1/4 cup of granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon of salt
2 sticks of butter, cold and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
3 eggs, beaten
The seeds of one vanilla bean (or 2 teaspoons of vanilla)
Vanilla bean, ricotta, and mascarpone filling:
2 pounds of ricotta cheese, drained
1 cup (one 8-ounce container) of mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup of confectioners sugar
2/3 cup of sugar
The seeds from one vanilla bean
White chocolate and vanilla bean ganache:
One 11 ounce package of white chocolate chips
1 cup of heavy cream
1 1/2 tablespoons of butter
The seeds and shell of 1/2 of a vanilla bean
Note: The night before, place ricotta cheese on a coffee filter or cheese cloth in a strainer over a bowl, cover and drain overnight in the refrigerator.
This recipe will make one 9-inch pie and one 10-inch tart or one 9-inch pie and one 8-inch pie.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray one pie plate and one tart pan or two pie plates with cooking spray.
To make the dough:
In a large bowl, mix together flour, cake flour, confectioners sugar, sugar, and salt. Add butter and mix until the mixture becomes crumbly. This will take about five minutes. Add eggs and vanilla bean seeds. Mix together until dough forms. Shape dough into a ball, cover in plastic wrap, and place in the refrigerator for, at least, 30 minutes.
To make the filling:
In a large bowl, mix together ricotta, mascarpone, confectioners sugar, sugar, eggs, and the seeds of one vanilla bean.
Cut the dough ball into two pieces. Roll out one piece on a lightly floured surface until it is slightly larger than your tart pan or pie plate. Using your rolling pin, roll dough onto your rolling pin. Unroll dough onto your pan or pie plate. Press dough gently into pan or pie plate. Trim edges and decorate edges if using pie plate. Repeat with the other piece of dough.
Fill your pie plate or tart pan with ricotta mixture. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes or until the edges are golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Check after 30 minutes, if edges of pie dough are becoming brown, tent aluminum foil over them to prevent them from burning. Remove from oven and allow to cool. The pie will take slightly longer than the tart.
Place white chocolate in a bowl. In a small saucepan, heat cream, butter, and vanilla bean seeds and shell on medium low until comes to a gentle boil. Allow to simmer on low for one minute. Fish out vanilla bean shells. Pour hot mixture over white chocolate. Whisk until chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to allow to thicken. Place cooled ricotta pie in the refrigerator to chill. This will make it easier to cover with the ganache.
To decorate with ganache, you can either spread ganache over the top of the pie like you would an icing or drizzle it on with a fork.
Keep pies refrigerated until ready to serve. Enjoy!
I am entering this in the Dessert Wars April vanilla challenge! The prize package for this competition includes:
Beanilla sampler pack of vanilla beans
Lenox personalized musical cupcake
1,000 Ideas For Decorating Cupcakes, Cookies, & Cakes
Organic Valley $50.00 gift certificate
Organic Prairie $50.00 gift certificate
Theme Kitchen $50.00 gift certificate
BEKA Cookware crepe pan
Whisk and cupcake necklace from Moon & Star Design
King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion Cookbook
Also, check out the giveaways at Creative Sanyukta and Family Fresh Cooking!