When we are in Umbria, I bring a sweet or dessert over to our farmhouse guests every couple of days or so, and I am always on the lookout for great dessert recipes that I can put together quickly but that taste amazing. I had some almond meal, chocolate chunks and some lovely Medjool dates I wanted to use up in my pantry, so I decided to put together a coffee cake type of dessert with a creamy ricotta cheese filling that could be enjoyed either at breakfast or after dinner as a dessert. This cake turned out even better than I had hoped for, and the chocolate and dates added a richness to the filling that combined with the ricotta wasn’t at all too sweet but was creamy and delicious. The buttery nutty texture of the rest of the cake was lovely, and I am certainly going to come up with a few more filling variations to use in the future. This cake is certainly a keeper and will be stored in my folder of “farmhouse” sweets for me to make for our guests this coming summer.
If you cannot find almond flour or almond meal, simply take blanched whole almonds and grind them in your food processor until they are very fine. I used dates in my filling, but you could use dried figs or raisins as well, or simply leave out the dried fruit and just use the chocolate.
Deborah Mele 2011
- 3 Cups All-purpose Flour
- 2 Cups Almond Meal
- 1 Cup Brown Sugar
- 1 1/2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
- 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
- 2 Sticks Butter (8 Ounces), Cut Into Cubes
- 1 Large Egg
- 2 Pounds Fresh Whole Milk Ricotta Cheese
- 1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar
- 1 Tablespoon Amaretto Liqueur (Or Liqueur Of Choice)
- 1 Large Egg
- 3/4 Cup Finely Chopped Dates or Figs
- 3/4 Cup Dark Chocolate Chunks or Chips
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. and lightly grease an 11 inch (28 cm) spring-form or tall sided tart pan with removable bottom.
- Combine the flour, almond meal, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt in a food processor and pulse.
- Add the butter cubes and pulse just until the mixture turns into crumbs the size of breadcrumbs.
- Add the egg and pulse until mixed throughout. (Your mixture will still be very crumbly at this time, but you should be able to press it together with your fingers.)
- Divide the crumb mixture in half and place in two separate bowls.
- Add the ricotta, sugar, liqueur, and egg to the food processor and pulse just until combined.
- Add the chopped dates (or figs) and chocolate and pulse until the fruit and chocolate are still lumpy but well mixed into the ricotta mixture.
- Take half your crumb mixture and press it into the bottom of your prepared pan and about 1 1/2 inches to 2 inches up the sides.
- Spoon in your ricotta mixture and smooth it evenly over the bottom crust.
- Sprinkle the other half of the crumb mixture over the ricotta filling, pressing it gently into the ricotta.
- Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour, or until the cake is golden brown and just beginning to crack on top.
- The center may still be a little soft when pressed with your fingertips, but the outer edges should be firm.
- Allow to cake to rest 20 minutes before removing it from the pan.
- Serve in wedges either slightly warm or at room temperature.
- Store leftover cake well wrapped in the refrigerator.