A Squared: Just For Fun: Individual Easter Ricotta Pies

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Just For Fun: Individual Easter Ricotta Pies

My grand plan for our big Easter dinner this year was to make an Italian-influenced American Easter dinner for two.  My sister Emma didn't join us for Easter this year (thankfully, since I was so sick all weekend!) since I will be seeing her in St. Simon's Island in just a few weeks. With it being just the two of us I still wanted to make something special, but not a meal that would make enough to serve 12 and would yield so many leftovers that we end up throwing them all away.  This is almost always a problem with dessert recipes. It is so difficult to find a recipe that's not intended to serve 10-16 people, right?

Part of my inspiration for this Italian-esque Easter dinner is that I have always wanted to make an Italian Easter ricotta pie. It's like an Italian cheesecake meets rice pudding with a delicious citrus flavor. The perfect way to welcome spring! A lot of recipes incorporate pine nuts too-- which sounds amazing-- however, with Alex's allergy we have omitted those here.  I decided to make individual Easter pies for us since they are perfectly portioned and I can make sure that I don't have dessert hanging around for days.

Buona Pasqua!


For the crust--
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 3 Tbs. unsalted butter, cold
  • 3 Tbs. ice water
For the filling--
  • 1 1/2 cups 2% milk
  • 3/4 cup dry arborio rice
  • 12 oz. part skim ricotta cheese
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbs. butter, at room temperature
  • 1 Tbs. fresh orange zest
  • 3/4 tsp. orange extract 
  • 3/4 tsp. pure vanilla extract 
  • 1 Tbs. fresh orange juice
  • 1 egg and 1 egg white, slightly beaten
You will also need ramekins to make these individual pies.  Five 6-ounce ramekins were perfect for using up all of the filling.  You could also use smaller ramekins to create more mini-desserts.

Combine flour and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Using a pastry blender, cut cold butter into the flour mixture until well blended and pea-sized.  Sprinkle 1 Tbs. of ice water over part of the mixture and toss gently using a fork until water is absorbed. Repeat with 2 more tablespoons of ice water (one at a time), until all the dough is moistened. Roll the dough into a bowl and transfer to a lightly floured flat surface.

Using a rolling pin dusted with flour, roll the dough out to about 1/4 inch thickness. I think it's helpful to roll it into a rectangular shape. Using one of the ramekins upside down as a "cookie cutter," cut out enough circular pieces of dough to fit into the bottom of each ramekin. Try to get as many pieces as possible out of the first sheet of dough.  You can re-roll the scraps and cut out a second batch, but the dough texture will become tougher with each new roll. 

Gently press the dough cutouts into the bottom of each ramekin. Refrigerate until you are ready to pour in the filling.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring milk just to a boil, add arborio rice, and stir to combine. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and cook for 20-22 minutes, removing lid a few times throughout the process to stir.  Remove from heat, remove lid, and cool slightly.

In a large bowl mix cooled rice mixture, sugar, butter, ricotta, orange zest, orange extract, vanilla extract, and orange juice until combined. Add eggs and stir together until thoroughly incorporated.

Spoon the ricotta rice mixture evenly into each of the prepared ramekins. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the filling is set and slightly browned on top. 

These pies can be made ahead of time and should be covered and refrigerated until ready to serve.  Remove from refrigerator about a half hour before serving. Garnish however you'd like: with whipped cream, mint leaves, sliced strawberries, fresh raspberries, or additional orange zest.

Inspired by original recipe courtesy of Teaspoon of Spice.

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