Lately I have been totally consumed with my work commitments and any spare time I have managed to find I have tried to spend in the garden enjoying our spring weather and in the kitchen doing what I love. I have been preserving some of those beautiful winter mandarins from my parent’s garden and making marmalade. The recipe to this preserve will be shared as part of this month’s Cucina Conversations round table, so stay tuned for the end of this month where we will discuss preserving our season’s fare and put forward various recipes.
So apart from lavishly spreading this mandarin marmalade on my sourdough for breakfast, I decided to use some of it in this ricotta tart whose recipe I came across in Delicious Magazine. It's a crostata (tart) that sings out Sicily in all its glory with the use of ricotta, citrus fruit and pine nuts. I substituted the orange marmalade they suggested with my mandarin & vin cotto marmalade , adding a sweeter more caramelized note. You can definitely use store bought marmalade for this recipe and am certain it will taste just as amazing.
What drew me to this recipe though is the tarts base. I am always in search of sweet shortcrust pastry recipes that are easy to make and don't fail me. I loved working with this pastry as it easily came together and was a joy to roll out without it crumbling apart. It uses a whole egg, which means you don't need to throw out the whites or feel compelled to save them for another recipe. Icing sugar is used instead of caster sugar, which I think helps the dough stay together, also making the texture silky soft and allowing the sugar to absorb the butter making it less greasy. Once chilled, it is quite easy to roll out too. The pastry is then blind baked and perfect to use any sweet filling of choice without collapsing.
Ricotta & Mandarin Tart (Crostata di Ricotta e Mandarini)
Recipe adapted from Delicious Magazine
1 1/3 cups (200g) plain flour
1/3 cup (50g) icing sugar, plus extra to dust
100g chilled unsalted butter, cubed
Grated zest of 3 mandarins or 1 organic orange, plus 3 tablespoons of mandarin or orange juice
½ cup mandarin or orange marmalade
30g pine nuts
350g fresh ricotta
¼ cup (55g) caster sugar
1 tablespoon mandarin or orange juice
Process the flour, icing sugar, butter and half the zest in a food processor to combine. Add egg and juice, and process until mixture forms a smooth ball. Enclose in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.
Grease a 24 cm round loose-bottomed tart pan. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured board until 3mm thick, then use to line prepared tin, trimming to fit. Using a fork, prick the dough and chill for 15 minutes.
Preheat oven to 180 C. Line pastry with baking paper and fill with pastry weights or uncooked rice. Blind-bake pastry for 10 minutes, then remove paper weights or rice and bake for 5 minutes. Cool slightly.
Process the filling ingredients with remaining zest in food processor to combine. Spread marmalade over pastry, and then cover with ricotta filling. Sprinkle pine nuts and finely grate some mandarin or orange rind over the top. Bake for 20 minutes until filling is starting to set and turn golden at edges. Cool slightly before removing from the pan. Serve dusted with icing sugar.