Tuesday 18 September 2018

Cocoa tart with pear, ricotta cheese and dark chocolate mousse

120 minutes to prepare Serves 12



Few days ago it was my birthday. But this year it was different.
It was my first birthday without my dad.

Every year he would write me a note to send his love and let me know that the moment I was born was one highlight of his life. On September 14 2017, he wrote me this:
“Happiness left us breathless 33 years ago.  And thank you for donating us more moments of joy with a sweet and beautiful creature like Nina.
To my daughter, beautiful and generous, strong against difficulties, smiling and unselfish in sad times, I wish you to capture the stars in the sky, even if it's raining. I hope stars can be sincere friends for the long years to come. I love you.”
Two months later, he slipped away. Just like that.

So this year I was standing there on the terrace, looking at the sky, and trying to figure out if we are still connected.
My birthday came and went. No message. He hasn’t appeared in any form recognizable to me. Stars are far away and indifferent. I felt alone.
Maybe stars speak a language that I don't understand, and I have no idea what they’re saying. They’re supportively luminous, but I am not sure we will ever be friends.
Maybe I felt like my dad. Lots of thoughts inside. Tons of tears. Tired. Defeated. Not sure that anyone else really gets me. Lonely.

Weird day. Weird feelings.
The cake I prepared for my family included some of the ingredients my dad used to love the most:
Chocolate? Check. Pears? Check. Ricotta cheese? Check!
It is a cocoa tart filled with quince jam and fresh, ripe pears, stacked with creamy ricotta cheese filling and topped by a layer of chocolate mousse.
I hope you enjoy it, my friends... happy birthday to me!

Here are ingredients for a 12-serving recipe (24-cm diameter baking pan):


For the pastry

200 g flour 00
40 g cocoa powder
100 g sugar
100 g butter
1 egg
1/2 sachet vanilla baking powder

For the stuffing

125 g quince jam
250 g cow milk ricotta cheese
2 tablespoons sugar
2 ripe Kaiser pears

For the dark chocolate mousse

50 g dark chocolate
100 ml fresh cream

  1. Start preparing the pastry: cut the butter into cubes and place it in a bowl. Add sugar, a pinch of salt and knead it quickly
  2. Stir in the egg, then mix again. Finally add flour, cocoa powder and vanilla baking powder, all sifted. Knead it again
  3. Form a ball, wrap it with plastic wrap and let it rest in the refrigerator for 1 hour
  4. Drain ricotta cheese in a colander and store it in the refrigerator
  5. When we are close to the the 1-hour resting time of the pastry, preheat oven to 180°C
  6. When ricotta cheese is dry, sift it and mix it in a bowl with sugar
  7. Grease and dust the baking pan with cocoa powder, then cover bottom and sides with half of the pastry cut into a flattened disc-shape, about 5 mm thick. Place the baking pan in the fridge for 30 minutes
  8. Peel and cut pears into thin slices
  9. Line the pastry with parchment paper and fill it with dried peas. Bake at 180°C for 10 minutes, until you achieve a browned crust
  10. Remove the dried peas and pour the quince jam into the pastry pan. Level well
  11. Arrange the pear slices on top in overlapping concentric circles
  12. Pour the ricotta cream into the pan, and level it well
  13. Bake at 180°C for 20 minutes. Then, let it cool down
  14. Meanwhile, start preparing the dark chocolate mousse by melting the dark chocolate in a bain-marie and let it cool down until it reaches a temperature between 45 and 55 C
  15. Pour the fresh cream into a bowl. Use a whisk to whip the cream with wide strokes and continue to whip until soft peaks form
  16. Gradually add melted dark chocolate to the whipped cream. Stir gently with a spoon to mix well
  17. Spoon the dark chocolate mousse into the pan and level it.
  18. Finally, place the tin back in the fridge to rest for at least 3 hours

Nutrition Facts are detailed in the table below. Data is provided per serving.

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