Cocoa Crumble Ricotta Cake


There’s something about a good, fresh ricotta that compels me to eat a pound of  it by the spoonful. One of my local delis sells an amazingly creamy ricotta, which I buy in two-pound increments: one for cooking/baking, one for eating on a spoon.

This extraordinary ricotta made me remember a cake I made a few years ago. It had a cocoa shortdough crust, a custardy ricotta filling, and was topped with a buttery cocoa crumble. I baked it, and against explicit instructions to not unmold the cake before it was completely cool, I unmolded it still warm and the ricotta flowed from the center like molten lava. It was a delicious disaster.


I dug through my old recipe folder, found the recipe scribbled on coffee-stained paper, and attempted it again. This time I practiced patience, and it sure paid off. This has a lovely, creamy, cocoa-y, and not-too-sweet flavor that is perfect with a cup of dark coffee. Make this cake well in advance, at least 8 hours before you plan on eating it. It really is disastrous to cut into this cake before it has set. You can store the cake in the fridge for up to 3 days, or in the freezer (well wrapped) for 2 weeks.


Cocoa Crumble Ricotta Cake

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7 Cookbooks to Look Forward to: March 2013


Deborah Madison: Vegetable Literacy (3/16/2013)

Vegetarians, vegetable lovers, and anyone with a stomach: rejoice. Deborah Madison is back with a gorgeous ode to the vegetable. #1 on my must-buy cookbook list.


Pike Place Fish Guys: Pike Place Fish Guys (3/7/2013)

If these guys cook half as well as they throw shit around without dropping it, I’m in! Seriously, those fish are the size of toddlers.


Todd Gray & Ellen Kassoff Gray: The New Jewish Table (3/5/2013)

The Grays take on the awesome task of transforming traditional Jewish dishes into modern recipes utilizing fresh and seasonal food.

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Sweets For Your Sweet: Tiny Turtles


These candies are pretty, delicious, and best of all: simple. Chewy caramel is layered over toasted pecans, then topped with chocolate and a sprinkle of sea salt. These candies need to stay refrigerated (since the chocolate is not tempered it will ‘bloom‘ if left at room temperature. It will be safe to eat, but not very pretty). The caramel will also be easier to unmold from the paper wrappers if it is chilled.


Tiny Turtles

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Some Fizz in Your Dessert: Root Beer Cupcakes


These root beer cupcakes are not any ordinary cupcakes. They’re sprinkled with Poprocks on the top, giving a fizzy, carbonated sensation with each bite. The cupcake itself is a basic vanilla cupcake, topped with root beer frosting. The Poprocks shouldn’t be added until just before serving. The root beer syrup I used to flavor the frosting is from Sonoma Co., and the unflavored Poprocks are from here. I’ve also included a foolproof quick tutorial on how to frost cupcakes without tips or a piping bag so you can avoid replicating BS’ amazing cupcake turds.


Root Beer Cupcakes

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What’s Better Than Ice Cream or Doughnuts? Ice Cream AND Doughnuts!


I hadn’t planned on pulling out the ice cream maker for at least two more months, but all the prime citrus is to be had RIGHT NOW. Powerless against the allure of citrus, I found myself churning a batch of Orange-Cardamom Ice Cream from Bi-Rite Creamery’s Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones last week. A giant scoop on the top of a freshly baked, irresistibly dark and chocolatey doughnut makes an incredible dessert you won’t forget.


Dark Chocolate Doughnuts topped with Orange-Cardamom Ice Cream (Gluten-free)

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Tricks of the Trade: Vanilla Bean Powdered Sugar


My favorite vanilla to use when baking is from Penzeys. On top of having the best flavor of any vanilla I’ve used, I get the added bonus of an actual vanilla bean in the bottle. When the bottle runs out, I take the bean out and let it dry on parchment paper. I then pulse it with granulated sugar to make vanilla bean powdered sugar. The pods themselves have a ton of vanilla flavor, and there are still a good amount of vanilla seeds in the pods as well, creating a heavily vanilla-scented sugar, perfect for dusting on your french toast or adding to buttercream frosting.

You can also blend in coffee beans, lemon or orange zest, a pinch of cinnamon, etc. to add an extra layer of flavor to the sugar.


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