Ricotta Pie – Call It “Cheesecake” At Your Own Risk

You would certainly be well within your rights to call this ricotta pie a “cheesecake,’ except then your guests would be expecting cheesecake, and that might cause some problems. 

If you tell me I’m about to get a slice of cheesecake, I’m picturing something tall, dense, sweet, and very rich. Those adjectives are why people order cheesecake in the first place.

That’s why this lighter, less sweet variation is being called a ricotta pie. So much of cooking for people is managing expectations, and a recipe’s name is a big part in that. Moving past semantics, I really enjoyed this cannoli-inspired take on the rustic Italian classic.

I played around with a hybrid pie-dough/cookie crust, with flavors borrowed from a cannoli shell, as well as studded the filling with chocolate and candied orange; also common features of that other ricotta-based dessert. If you don’t want to mess around with my crust, or you’re still trying to do the paleo thing, you can skip that step, and just butter and flour the pan first. Your favorite graham cracker crust will work as well, especially with some ground almonds tossed in.

Regarding the sweetness: Generally, ricotta pies are not very sweet, and contain only about half the sugar of a traditional cheesecake. For this size pie (9-inch), you could use between a 1/4 and 1/2-cup of sugar, depending on your tastes. I used a 1/3-cup, which is perfect for me, but I’m not you, so adjust accordingly. Same goes for the grated citrus, and chocolate. I really hope you give this great ricotta pie a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 8 portions:
For the crust:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
1/2 cup cold butter, cut in chunks
1 large egg
2 tbsp marsala wine
2-3 tablespoons ice water, or enough to form dough
Prebake crust for 15 min at 400 F.

For the filling
3 cups whole-milk ricotta cheese
4 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract, to taste
1 or 2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon and/or orange zest
pinch of salt (not shown!)
2 tbsp semi-sweet chocolate chips, optional
2 tbsp diced candied orange zest, optional

Bake 45 minutes at 350 F., or until just set (160 internal temp)

*I garnished with chopped pistachios, and some  additional orange zest that I tossed with some simple syrup (1/4 cup water and a 1/4 cup sugar brought to a simmer and allowed to cool.)