Easter Ricotta Tart
For the pastry:
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, plus more for greasing pie dish
1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sifted cake flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
Shredded peel of 1 medium lemon
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2 large egg yolks
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
3 to 5 tablespoons cold water
For the filling:
3 1/4 cups premium whole-milk ricotta
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 large egg, separated
2 large egg yolks
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
1 tablespoon Galliano liqueur (anise-flavored)
1 tablespoon pure vanilla
Pinch of salt
1/3 cup mixed candied fruit, cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 tablespoon pine nuts or coarsely chopped blanched almonds
Butter a 10-inch metal pie pan or tart dish.
To prepare the crust: Mix the flours, salt, sugar and lemon peel in a large mixing bowl or a food processor bowl. Using your fingertips or a food processor, work the 6 tablespoons cold butter into the dry mixture until it is the size of small peas.
In a small bowl, beat together the yolks, lemon juice and 3 tablespoons water. Add to the flour-butter mixture, tossing with a fork or pulsing only until the pastry forms small clumps. Another 1 to 2 tablespoons water may be needed. Shape the dough into a ball.
On a floured surface, roll out the pastry to a 15-inch circle about 1/8-inch thick. Fit it into the pie pan and trim the edges to a 1-inch overhang. Roll the rim under itself and flute it into a high border standing on the pie pan’s rim. Chill for 1 hour or up to overnight.
Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Line the pastry shell with foil or parchment, weight with dried beans and bake for 15 minutes. Gently remove the liner and weights and bake for another 2 minutes, or until the crust is firm. Let cool on a rack.
Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees.
To prepare the filling: In a food processor, puree the ricotta and transfer to a bowl, or pass it through a fine sieve into a bowl. Blend in the cream, 3 egg yolks, 1/2 cup sugar, the Galliano, vanilla and salt. Stir in the fruit. Turn the filling into the pastry shell and tuck in the chocolate pieces here and there.
In a medium bowl, beat the egg white until foamy. Gradually beat in the remaining 3 tablespoons sugar and continue to beat the meringue until it is the consistency of very thick cream — not quite to soft peaks. Using a spoon, make a zigzag strip of meringue thickly over the filling, not covering it completely. Sprinkle the nuts over the top of the tart.
If not using a tart pan, make a foil ring and cover the pastry’s rim. Place the tart in the oven and reduce the temperature to 325 degrees. Bake for 40 minutes. Remove the foil rim and bake another 15 to 20 minutes, or until a knife inserted an inch from the rim comes out with a few streaks. The filling will jiggle a little when shaken, but will set up during cooling. Remove the tart to a rack and let cool.
Chill the tart for an hour or so – its flavor seems to open up with this step. Bring to room temperature before serving. To serve, cut into narrow wedges.
The tart keeps well, covered, in the refrigerator as long as 2 to 3 days, but it is prime the day it is made