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Food Network Favorites: Creamy Ricotta Tart with Pine Nuts

Another dessert from the Giada De Laurentiis chapter in Food Network Favorites . It's a very good tart; it's just not my favorite kind of dessert. The pine nut crust is topped with a lightly sweet custard, and more pine nuts are strewn across the top. You need to really like pine nuts for this one to appeal to you, because their flavor is very, very strong.

The recipe works well and there are no problems with proportions or cooking time. The tart wasn't a big hit for me because I thought that the custard wasn't quite sweet enough, and the pine nut flavor was overpowering. These are, however, matters of individual taste, so if you're a pine nut fan, give this dessert a try.

Be careful that you press the crust all the way up the sides of the tart pan. The filling is the consistency of milk when you pour it into the crust, and needs to be completely contained. If you happen to splash any filling over the sides of the crust, as I did (just a smidge!), it will pour out of the bottom of the tart pan and make a black, burnt mess on the bottom of your oven. (Thankfully, I only had about a 1-inch wide piece of tart that had some overcooked custard on the outside of the crust. The rest of the tart was fine.)

Prep Time: about 45 minutes, plus about 1 hour chilling time
Cook Time: about 1 hour 15 minutes
Yield: about 8 to 10 servings

1 1/2 cups plus 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
3/4 cup pine nuts, toasted (see note, below)
Pinch salt
4 oz. unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly (1/2 cup)

1/2 cup water
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 cup ricotta cheese
6 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
2 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
3/4 cup pine nuts, toasted (see note, below)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Make the crust: In the bowl of a food processor, pulse flour, sugar, pine nuts, and salt until finely ground. Add the butter. Pulse dough just until it comes together. Place the dough into an 11-inch tart pan with a removable bottom and press down to cover the bottom and sides of the pan. Make sure the crust comes all the way up the sides of the pan. Refrigerate until the dough is firm, about 30 minutes.

Line the tart shell with aluminum foil and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake the tart shell in the lower third of the oven until just set, about 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and weights and continue to bake the shell until lightly golden, about 10 more minutes. Remove from the oven and cool completely, at least 30 minutes at room temperature.

Make the filling: Stir the water with the sugar in a small saucepan over low heat just to dissolve the sugar; don't boil. Stir until the sugar dissolves and remove from the heat.

In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the ricotta cheese and cream cheese until smooth. Add the eggs and egg yolks, one at a time, and process until smooth. With the machine running, add the sugar syrup in a thin steady stream and process until smooth.

Pour the custard into the cooled tart shell and bake until the filling is almost set, about 20 to 25 minutes. Scatter the toasted pine nuts over the top and bake until the tart is set, about 10 more minutes. Let the tart cool completely before serving. The tart can be wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 3 days. Bring the tart to room temperature before serving.

To toast pine nuts: Spread the nuts onto a baking sheet and bake at 300 degrees for about 8 to 10 minutes, or until golden and fragrant. Watch carefully, as nuts burn very quickly.



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