I was a guest of Lucio's fabulous annual Christmas lunch last week. When I asked him for a Christmas recipe, he pointed me to this fantastic ricotta and hazelnut torta which, he told me, is so easy to make that even reluctant cooks can achieve excellent results. You'll find it in his stunning cookbook, The Art of Traditional Italian (Lantern).
"It can be eaten for breakfast with a cappuccino," he says. "What a lovely way to start the day! - and of course, it also makes an excellent dessert and morning or afternoon tea. We started making it in our restaurant in the late 1980s and whenever we have it on special we get lots of offers to buy the the whole cake to take away."
- Prep Time : 25 minutes
- Cook Time : 50 minutes
- Yield : 8
- egg - 1
- caster sugar - 75g
- vanilla bean - 1, split lengthways and seeds scraped
- fresh ricotta - 500g, drained
- lemon - 1, grated zest
- orange - 1, grated zest
- Frangelico - 30ml
- hazelnuts - 75g, ground
- Mascarpone Cream:
- egg - 1
- caster sugar - 45g
- mascarpone - 400g
- 70% good quality dark chocolate - 60g, grated or shaved, to serve
- toasted whole hazelnuts - to decorate (optional)
Preheat the oven to 110degC. Grease a round 25cm springform cake tin with butter.
Place the egg, sugar and vanilla seeds in a food processor and process for 5 minutes, or until light and creamy. Add the ricotta, lemon and orange zests and Frangelico. Process just to combine, then transfer to a bowl and fold through the ground hazelnuts.
Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 50 minutes or until the sides pull away from the tin and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Set aside to cool for 20 minutes before removing from tin.
To make the Mascarpone Cream: use an electric mixer to beat the egg and sugar until pale and thick. Add the mascarpone and beat until smooth.
When the cake is cool, cover with Mascarpone Cream and sprinkle with chocolate shavings over the top. Chop the extra hazelnuts and press onto the side of the cake. Scatter a few over the top and serve.
Tip: if the mascarpone topping is runny, add some whipped thickened cream (approx.150ml - 200ml) to the mixture. Thickened cream has gelatine through it and will hold the mixture.