When last we met yesterday, I was telling you about my experiment making fresh ricotta cheese. There are lots of desserts made with ricotta—cheesecakes, pies, cakes, cannoli cream, pudding—and when they’re done right, all of those desserts are wonderful. Creamy and dreamy.
But those desserts can take a lot of time to prepare. If you have fresh ricotta on hand and want to satisfy your sweet tooth—okay, need to satisfy it—I’ve got two desserts that do the job. Each recipe takes 30 minutes or less to prepare, and showcases the soft & creamy texture of ricotta alongside simply cooked and incredibly flavorful fruit.
Exhibit A: Broiled Pineapple with Salted Caramel, Fresh Ricotta, and Chopped Pecans
Time: 25 minutes
What you will need:
- 1 golden ripe pineapple
- 2 tbsp. dark rum (I am a fan of Black Seal)
- 2 tbsp. packed brown sugar
- 2 tsp. unsalted butter
- pinch of salt
- 1 cup fresh ricotta cheese
- 1/4 cup finely chopped pecans (or walnuts, almonds or hazelnuts)
- Access to a broiler (and if you don’t have that, a stove-top grill pan will work just fine)
How To Make It:
Set your broiler to high and let it pre-heat for ten minutes. Peel and core the pineapple, and cut it into 8 stalks. Line up the pineapple stalks down the center of a foil-lined cookie sheet.
Place the pineapple about 2 inches from the broiler flame. Grab a small sauce pan and add the brown sugar, rum, and butter. Set the pan over medium-low heat and stir with a whisk to break up the sugar. Continue stirring until all the sugar dissolves, then add the salt. Allow mixture to boil for 1-2 minutes, then remove from heat.
Check on the pineapple. Ideally, you’ll want a little char on the edges of the stalks, but be careful not to burn them. Remove from the broiler once the stalks are ready. Drizzle half of the caramel sauce on each of four plates and place two stalks on each plate. Place about a 1/4 cup of ricotta on top of each pair of stalks, then drizzle the remaining caramel over the cheese. Top each dessert with about a tablespoon of chopped pecans and serve.
Exhibit B: Red Wine-Poached Pears with Fresh Ricotta and Chopped Walnuts
Time: 30 minutes
What you’ll need:
- 4 pears (I used D’Anjou, but Bartlett or Bosc pears work just as well)
- 1.5 cups red wine
- 1.75 cups water
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 lemon, sliced
- 1 cup fresh ricotta cheese
- 1/4 cup chopped walnuts (pecans or almonds work here too)
How to Make It:
Combine wine, water, cinnamon stick and lemon in a medium saucepan and set over medium high heat. While you’re waiting for the mixture to boil, peel the pears.
Add the pears to the boiling liquid and reduce to a simmer. The pears should be completely submerged in the liquid. Poach pears for 8-10 minutes, until they’re tender enough to pierce with a knife. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the pears to a plate to cool. Continue simmer the poaching liquid, allowing it to reduce by about a quarter.
Remove the pan from heat, and use the same slotted spoon to lift out 4 of the lemon slices, placing each on a dessert plate. The lemon slice will anchor the pear so it doesn’t roll around. Next, spoon some of the reduced poaching liquid over each pear, letting it pool on the plate.
Set about 1/4 cup of ricotta on each plate, right in the pool of liquid, and sprinkle the top of each dish with the chopped nuts.