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

Makes one 9″ cake, serves 12



  • 10 Tbs slightly softened unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 Tbs dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1/8 tsp table salt


  • 7 Tbs softened unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 5 room temperature eggs (put them in a bowl run them under hot tap water for 5 minutes before you crack them if the eggs are cold)
  • 1 lb (16oz) fresh ricotta


  • 5 Tbs butter, melted and cooled
  • 5 Tbs sugar
  • 1 cup + 3 Tbs all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbs cocoa powder


  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. Make the crust:In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder together. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and sugar. Cut the butter into the flour mix using a fork or a pastry cutter. When the pieces are about pea-sized, add the egg mixture and combine. Knead with your hands until just combined. Form the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic and set aside. Don’t let the dough get warm.
  3. Make the filling: In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the room-temperature eggs, on at a time, until well incorporated and fluffy. Add the ricotta and beat until creamy.
  4. Make the crumble: Add the flour and sugar to the cooled melted butter, and quickly mix together with a fork.
  5. Assemble the cake: Roll the crust dough out to roughly a 9-inch circle. Lay it in the bottom of a 9″ springform pan (I use this one and love it). Using your fingers, press the crust into the bottom of the pan and up the sides. It should be about an inch or so high along the sides. Pour the filling over the crust and top with the crumble.
  6. Bake for about an hour. The center will still look unset. Remove from the oven and let cool completely before unmolding, unless you want a delicious, lava-like disaster. This took about 8 hours for my cake, which I let cool in a 50F garage.



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