I’ve been looking for a recipe like this for a long time, after first tasting an Italian Ricotta cake made by Hmmm a few years ago. I found a few recipes which helped, especially this one by Cakelets and Doilies, which it seems she adapted from a Donna Hay recipe.
So basically this concept has been around the block a few times, and when you taste it, you’ll know why it’s so popular. It’s light and almondy, moist and crumbly, with a lemon flavour that can be subtle or quite strong, depending on how you like it. As a bonus, it’s gluten-free and if you wanted to make it sugar-free/paleo too, I imagine it would work very well if you used honey or something like xylitol instead.
The first time I made it, I used ricotta and the second time I used creamed cottage cheese, and both were equally delicious. As the texture is crumbly rather than smooth anyway, due to the ground almonds, it doesn’t matter if the ricotta isn’t completely smooth either, so use whatever you can get your hands on.
You can make it either as a tart/cake (these quantities make a smallish tart so double them if you want to feed more than 4) or as tartlets, which is what I chose to do here as I wanted to give them away as gifts. The tart needs just a bit longer than the smaller tartlets to cook.
To serve, either eat it just as is or, if you like, with Greek yoghurt to add extra tang, or mascarpone cheese or whipped cream if you prefer more creaminess. Either way, you can’t really go wrong – it’s just so delicious!
- 100 – 120g ground almonds
- 2 eggs, separated and at room temperature
- Pinch of salt
- 60g butter, softened
- 100g castor sugar
- zest of 1 lemon
- 150g smooth creamed cottage cheese, cream cheese or ricotta
- Flaked almonds (optional for decoration)
- Icing sugar, for dusting (optional)
- Mascarpone, Greek yoghurt or whipped cream to serve (optional)
Preheat the oven to 160°C. If you’re making tartlets, butter your muffin/tart pans, place cupcake cases in them or use silicon cases. If you’re making a larger tart, butter a cake tin or oven-proof dish.
If you have whole almonds, grind them now until they’re reasonably fine.
Zest your lemon.
Place the egg whites into a bowl with a pinch of salt.
Beat the egg whites until they can hold a firm peak.
Now add 25g of the castor sugar and beat again until you get a fairly thick mixture that can hold its shape.
Place the butter and the remainder of the castor sugar in a bowl, and beat until light and fluffy.
Then add the lemon zest (saving a few strands for decoration) and egg yolk, and beat again.
Add the ground nuts to the mixture and beat them in too.
Add the cream cheese or ricotta, and stir that in (if it’s ricotta, you may want to beat it in to get the mixture a bit smoother).
Place a spoonful of the egg white mixture into the bowl, and gently stir it in to lighten the mix.
Then add the rest of the egg white mix and gently fold it in.
Pour the mixture into a cake pan or divide it between the muffin pans. Decorate with a few strands of lemon zest or flaked almonds.
Bake for 20 – 25 minutes for tartlets or 35 – 40 minutes for a larger size cake, until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. It doesn’t rise much, but it will go slightly browner on top.
Let it cool completely before very carefully removing the cake/s from the pan. Be gentle as it’s quite crumbly (if it’s a larger tart, you may want to leave it in the pan to serve as you probably won’t be able to get it out in one piece). Then dust with icing sugar.
Package up the tarts or serve as is, or with some mascarpone, Greek yoghurt or cream.
© Alexandra Lawrence and Inspired Nourishment, 2015