Ricotta Tart with Sour Cherries

Our Spring Edible Explorer column took me to Rome and Tuscany. For dessert, we had a ricotta and cherry crostata, a specialty from the Jewish Ghetto in Rome. An ancient recipe, this crostata was born out of necessity. Originally established by Papal bull in 1555 AD, the ghetto was kept going for 300 years to keep the Jews separated and hemmed in. Brutal sumptuary laws governed what they could wear (no fur or silk), do (rag-picking), and even eat. As they weren’t allowed dairy—no cheese!—the crostata’s crust originally hid the forbidden ricotta.

From Sofitel Villa Borghese chef Giuseppe D’Alessio

Ricotta Tart with Sour Cherries

makes 1 tart; serves 8


  • 300 g butter
  • 500 g flour 00
  • 150 g granulated sugar
  • 100 g egg yolks
  • peel of half a lemon
  • 150 g egg yolks
  • 125 g granulated sugar
  • 125 g fresh cream
  • 500 ml milk
  • 500 g ricotta
  • 100 g granulated sugar
  • 300 g custard
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 200 g sour cherry jam
  • fresh blueberries
  • whipped cream
  • Amarena Fabbri sour cherries
  • peel of half a lemon
  • half a vanilla pod


  1. Step 1

    For the shortcrust pastry, cut the butter into small pieces and knead quickly (about 1 minute) in a stand mixer together with the sugar.

    Step 2

    Add the egg yolks in one go, along with the grated lemon zest and vanilla.

    Step 3

    Once the egg yolks are blended, add the flour and mix until well combined.

    Step 4

    Cover the dough with cling film and allow it to rest in the refrigerator for about 2 hours.

    Step 5

    For the custard, heat the milk, cream with vanilla and lemon zest in a saucepan.

    Step 6

    With a whisk, mix the egg yolks with the flour and sugar until the mixture is smooth. When the milk and cream begin to simmer, pour a small amount into the egg yolk mixture to dissolve it slowly.

    Step 7

    Off the heat, add all the liquid to the egg yolk mixture and mix well with a whisk.

    Step 8

    Put it back on the heat over low heat, continuing to turn, making sure to reach all the corners of the pan so that there are no lumps or risk of burning the mixture at the edges. Bring to a boil (about 82°C).

    Step 9

    Spread the cream on a baking tray and cover with cling film in contact with the surface. Put in the blast chiller and leave to cool. Drain the ricotta in a fine chinoix for about 30 min.

    Step 10

    Slowly work the ricotta in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, add the cream, making sure that the mixture does not separate, and the sugar. Combine the eggs until smooth.

    Step 11

    Roll out the shortcrust pastry to about 5 mm thickness, completely line the chosen mold (28 cm), prick the bottom with a fork, spread a layer of about 5 mm of very dry sour cherry jam.

    Step 12

    Add the ricotta mixture up to the edge, level it well with the moistened spatula and bake at 160°C for about 40 min.

    Step 13

    Check the browning and internal humidity, once cooked let it rest for a day before use.

    Step 14

    Once ready, cut a slice of tart, whip the cream and garnish to taste with sour cherries in syrup, blueberries and fresh mint.

Chef’s tips

It is important to cover the custard well with cling film to prevent a patina from forming on the surface. 

The shortcrust pastry tends to swell in the oven, so it is important to prick all parts of the dough with a fork before placing it in the oven.


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