Let the focus be on fresh simple ingredients, because simplicity and Italian recipes go hand in hand.
Crostata with Almond, Apricot and Cheese can be served with a dollop of fresh whipped cream, a scoop of French vanilla ice cream, or as it is without any toppings. Crostata is derived from the Latin crustata, which means crust, and is both a tart and sweet cheese and fruit open-faced pie. For those of you who let me know how much you loved my Fruit Galette with Salted Honey, you are about to get nuts all over again. The most commonly used fruits in crostata are stone fruits such as cherries, apricots, or peaches, but berries may be used as well.
In the 15th century cookbook Libro de Arte Coquinaria, the earliest mention of crostata is referenced, so this traditional pastry technique goes way back. The basis of Italian cooking and baking employs simple quality ingredients and methods. And while it has been modified slightly, Crostata with Almond, Apricot and Cheese is assembled in the same crude manner resulting in an end product that is nothing short of spectacular.
This recipe has a creamy filling of ricotta cheese, cream cheese, eggs and a bit of sugar.
There is no scarcity of uncomplicated Italian recipes to demonstrate that simple quality ingredients and methods yield magnificent dishes. Ricotta cheese, the little black dress of the cheese world, is a good example. The most popular variety of crostata in the south of Italy is crostata di ricotta. Cream the cheese until all the tiny curds have been beaten and the texture is smooth. Layer it in parfait cups with boozy macerated strawberries, and you have a spectacular no-bake summertime dessert with as few as five ingredients. Bake whipped ricotta into this Crostata recipe and add fruit, and you have an elegantly baked primitive pie of sorts. Nine ingredients, assembled free-form, and bakes up 'chic.' I hope at this point you are planning to make this…
What if you could show off your crostata and eat it, too? From our friends at Revol Porcelain in France. Kitchen necessaries, click image for pricing.
Natural anise pizzelle cookies will melt in your mouth, not to mention give this crostata a lovely hint of licorice that apricot pairs so very well with.
100% soft cotton aprons and a fantastic cake pan ensemble by none other than Martha Stewart. Kitchen necessaries, click images for pricing.
There is a secret to making the BEST Crostata with Almond, Apricot and Cheese. Use the freshest apricots you can find.
I did one other ‘thing’ with this crostata in that I added a half teaspoon of Licorice sugar. The taste of licorice marries nicely with, for example, raspberry, lemon, and funny enough, apricot. This decision to add the Licorice sugar was a bit of a Scandinavian (rather than Italian) gambit. However, the combination very much appealed to me, so I tried it. I LOVED IT.
In my photographs, you will see that sprinkling the Licorice sugar over the top caused the color to bleed into my bake. While I did not mind this, next time, I will incorporate it beneath my cheese mixture for aesthetic reasons. If you have never heard of Licorice sugar, I have included a link herein for purchase. Made in Finland, it is AMAZING over homemade, slightly softened vanilla ice cream. I have found it difficult to locate in the grocer. It is NOT a recipe specification herein. The addition of crushed anisette cookies is another optional addition that just kicks the crostata up another level. I am sharing because there are those who will read this and have an ‘aha’ moment for sure…it comes with being a licorice lover.
There is just no substitute for a machine that has the strength to churn bread dough or accommodate entire pieces of fruit because of it's extra-large feed tube. This Pro does it all, kitchen necessaries, click image for pricing.
So, while we are talking almond...fresh from Marseille’s oldest soap factory, this liquid hand soap has all the benefits of traditional bar soap, with a useful hand pump for a tidy kitchen sink space.
Hypoallergenic? Check. Certified organic? Of course. Free of petrochemicals, parabens, allergens and preservatives? You bet.
Set of two (2), click image for pricing.
All images and text ©Jenny DeRemer for Not Entirely Average, LLC
Did you know that it’s super easy to print out a version of a half recipe or even a double recipe on Not Entirely Average? Hover over the serving size (highlighted in blue, it says 24 on this recipe) and then slide the the white line to the left to make less or to the right to make more. This "calculator" allows you to play until you get the number of servings you want. Easy.
Ingredients for Crostata with Almond, Apricot and Cheese
- 3.5 ounces almond paste, about 1/2 of a 7 ounce log
- 3 1/2 tablespoons sugar, divided
- 3 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 2 ounces Ricotta cheese, whipped until very smooth
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 refrigerated pie crust, room temperature
- 4 to 5 large apricots, pitted and halved, then sliced to fan
- 1/4 cup apricot jam, heated over very low flame
- 1/2 teaspoon licorice sugar
- 3 crushed anisette cookies
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Prepare a large rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper and set aside.
- Pulse almond paste and 3 tablespoons sugar in processor until finely chopped, about 6 to 8 pulses. Add cream cheese, whipped ricotta, egg yolk, and vanilla and blend until filling is smooth.
- Unroll pie crust on parchment lined baking sheet. Using a ruler and a sharp knife, lightly score marks 1 1/2 inches in from the edge of the crust all the way around, so as to roughly leave a 1 1/2-inch plain border.
- * if using licorice sugar, sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon on crust now
- Spread filling over crust just to border marks you made.
- Arrange apricot half fans atop the filling.
- Fold dough border up over edge of filling.
- Brush exposed apricots with warm jam. Sprinkle with remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar.
- Bake crostata until crust is golden brown and apricots are tender and slightly browned, about 40 to 45 minutes.
- Sprinkle with crushed anisette cookies if using. Serve warm or at room temperature.