ricotta tart with vermicelli pasta

not that i could afford it - my bikini still looks tiny on my buttocks. and if there wont happen a miracle in the next few weeks my appearanche at the beach wont be very glamorous. but then, who can resist a sweet little tart? and i always tell myself that when i only eat a small piece, the calories dont really count. because not eating tart isnt really an option in my kitchen. i discovered a recipe for a nepolitan ricotta tart in the latest book PASTA PASSION by italian food writer ursula ferrigno. her ricotta tart is enriched with some vermicelli pasta, those tiny little angel-hair like noodles. i fiddled around with her recipe a little bit, since i havent got orange flower water and was too lazy to grate 115g orange peel. so instead of orange, i simply mixed some chocolate chips into the filling.
when she writes that the pastry is "a very short pastry, so it may tear readily" she put it quite mild. the pastry is a pain in the back, let me tell you this straigh away but it is very easy to patch into the tart tin. when the tart comes out of the oven it makes such a wonderful presentation - rich but sweet - really a wonderful little thing.
so here is my ricotta tart with vermicelli pasta, my entry for this weeks presto pasta night, hosted - as always - by the lovely ruth from once upon a feast.


for the pastry:
225g butter
175g sugar
4 egg yolks
450g flour

for the filling:
about 450g ricotta cheese
115g sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
grated zest of two and juice of one lemon
1 egg, separated
500ml milk
175g vermicelli pasta
large pinch of salt
icing sugar for dusing
50g chocolate chips

to make the pastry: put the butter and sugar in a bowl and cream together. add the egg yolks and then gradually add the flour, mixing well to make a soft dough. wrap in greaseproof paper and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
to make the filling, put the ricotta, sugar (reserve 2 tablespoons), cinnamon, lemon zest and juice and the egg yolk in a bowl, then beat together.
in a small saucepan bring the milk to a boil, add the vermicelli, 2 tablespoons of sugar, zest of one lemon and a pinch of salt and simmer gently until the vermicelli has absorbed neraly all of the milk. make sure the pasta doesnt stick and burn at the bottom of the pan.

while it's still warm, blend the pasta carefully into the ricotta mixture. let cool a bit. whisk the egg white until it holds its shape, gently fold into the mixture. add chocolate chips.

heat the oven to 190 c°.
on a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry and use two-thirds to line a 28cm loose-bottomed tart tin. the pastry is a pain in the back and breaks very easily but can be easily patched into the tin.
add the ricotta filling, then cut the remaining pastry into 5mm strips and arrange a lattice pattern over the top of the tart.
bake in the oven for about 50 minutes until golden. let cool a bit and dust with icing sugar before serving.