It’s that time of year when I start to yearn for jellybeans, Cadbury eggs, Peeps, and my mother’s “ Easter sweet ricotta pie.” It’s interesting how we always think our mother’s versions of our favorite recipes are always the best. We love the flavors of our childhood, making it indeed “the best” to us.
To say I love my mother’s Easter sweet ricotta pie is an understatement. I literally start to crave it when Easter time rolls around. I know that there are many variations of this Italian dessert (citron…no citron; whiskey flavoring….vanilla flavoring; orange zest….orange juice). The amount of sugar or eggs may vary from recipe to recipe, but the key ingredients never vary, so more than likely, it’s always delicious. However, my mother’s pie has always been the best in my eyes.
UNTIL, I tasted my friend Angela’s mother’s recipe. There was something considerably different about it, yet still the same. I ate an entire piece trying to figure out why it was lighter and airier than my mom’s. The secret: separating the eggs and beating the egg whites until stiff, before folding the egg whites into the ricotta mixture. This created a much less dense cheesecake. Also, the crust was very different, but I wouldn’t learn more about that until much later, when she gave me a typed, step-by-step recipe to follow.
Angela (not her mother) used frozen store-bought crust. You’d never have known it. I suggest you do that, or go back in the archives to my mother’s “Easter Sweet Ricotta Pie” for her crust. I’ve tried Angela’s pie crust recipe twice now and it just doesn’t come out right. She either copied it down wrong from her mother, or perhaps her mother gave it to her wrong so it would never be as good as hers, as many Italian mothers have done.
One of the things I loved most about Angela was her sense of adventure. I only make this pie at Easter time, as is tradition. Angela made it all year round, any chance she’d get. She’d proudly bring it to my house for summer barbecues, New Year’s Eve, anyone’s birthday, and even a Halloween party. So don’t be like me, and only delight in this pie once a year. It should be enjoyed all year long. Angela would want you to do so.
Recipe: 1 pie (I’ve halved her recipe, but feel free to double and make 2 pies)
1 1/2 pounds of ricotta
1 Cup sugar
4 eggs —separated
1 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of salt
orange zest and 1 ounce orange juice
- Separate eggs, and leave out until almost room temperature.
- Beat ricotta
- Add egg yokes and other ingredients and mix well to blend.
- Beat egg whites in a deep bowl until stiff peaks form.
- Fold the egg whites into the ricotta mixture.
Crust: buy 2 frozen pie crusts ( Angela used Pillsbury, which comes two in a box) or go back into the archives for my mother’s crust recipe for “Easter Sweet ricotta Pie.”
Place one round crust in a 9 inch deep pie pan. Pour the ricotta mixture into the pan. Cut the other crust into strips and crisscross on top creating a lattice effect.
Bake in a 350 degree oven for approximately 1 hour. “The batter will rise and appear like a mound…after cooling, it will drop.”