Once you make it yourself - you’ll never want the store-bought ricotta again.
A couple of times each year, we get together with friends and make a pot of ricotta for supper. We like to serve it over day-old French or crusty Italian bread cut up in cubed pieces. The freshly made ricotta over the bread will soak up any excess water.
The cheese will be creamy and light and delicious. We serve it with a salad or some fruit and a glass of wine. What a treat!
You can make homemade ravioli, manicotti, or lasagna with this ricotta and it will lend a gourmet taste compared to the store-bought ricotta. You can also make desserts with leftover ricotta — ie, cannoli – you can buy the fresh, empty already baked shells at Lowe’s Food stores or at a local Italian deli. There are different recipes for the delicious cream filling – some just add sugar. There are good recipes on the internet. Here is a simple sampling recipe and just make sure you fill them no more than one day before serving and refrigerate!
BASIC FILLING FOR CANNOLI
- 2 c. or 1 lb. ricotta cheese
- 1 c. sugar
- 1/4 c. semi-sweet chocolate bits
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 1/2 c. candied cherries
Blend cheese and sugar until smooth. Add remaining ingredients. Put filling into cannoli shell by teaspoon. Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar.
And now for the ricotta cheese-making part.
It’s not hard to make, and doesn’t take that long to do. In all, it takes about 30 minutes from start to finish. It’s important to assemble all the utensils you will use because timing and temperature are crucial to the results. Enjoy!
- You will need a large stainless steel pot to mix in. You won’t need the cover.
- A long wooden spoon for stirring.
- A stainless slotted skimmer spoon for checking curds (see below)
- A long thermometer with degrees on it (similar to candy making thermometer) at least to 200 – 300 degrees.
- One (1) gallon regular milk – not skim or not even 2%
- Two (2) pints of heavy cream
- 1-1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 C of freshly-squeezed lem
- on juice – lemons must be fresh and accurately measured – about 3 – 5 lemons, depending on size
And so we begin:
- Pour milk (only) into large pot on medium heat with heat thermometer on side of pot or attached
- Stir slowly and continuously (always in one direction – clockwise) with the wooden spoon
- When the milk gets to 100 degrees on the thermometer, (pot will start to sweat on the outside), add the heavy cream and salt – continuously stirring always with the wooden spoon.
- Continue stirring until temperature reaches 198 degrees – add lemon juice
- Stir only a few more times (3 times) and test curds should be forming when tested with flat slotted skimmer
- Turn off burner and remove pot from heat
- Allow mixture to settle for a minute or two
- Scoop out curds/cheese with slotted spoon into large dish – some drain the cheese through cheesecloth for a firmer ricotta; we prefer to leave some moisture in to keep it moist.
This cheese will last 3 – 4 days in the refrigerator. For breakfast, the ricotta is great on toast or served in a dish with fruit.
This recipe is for homemade SICILIAN RICOTTA SPONGECAKE http://www.make-stuff.com/cooking/spongecake.html
Copyright © Marie Coppola Revised November 2012