Ricotta al caffè (coffee ricotta cream and tips on home-made “ricotta”)

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One of the foods I miss most from Italy is fresh ricotta – the real deal of course, not the  industrial type which I can get also here, a tasteless and pappy substitute. Fresh ricotta is another thing altogether: sweet, milky and light, creamy and yet not insubstantial: with a sprinkle of sugar or with a drizzle of olive oil, it is culinary nirvana. Here in the UK, even in London, fresh ricotta is still very hard to come by: I tried the Neal’s Yard’s one (made in England) and I was not impressed, but I also saw beautiful looking Italian fresh ricotta at Gastronomica, in Borough Market (I was told it is flown in every few days).

Because it’s so hard to find good ricotta in the UK, many years ago I started making “home made ricotta” – though it is actually nothing more than fresh cheese: milk coagulated with some acid (lemon juice, vinegar, rennet, citric acid the most common) . So far, I have found that the version that gets closer to real, fresh ricotta is the one you can find in the beautiful books of Rosetta Costantino,this one. It is really good, especially when freshly made. I use full fat non homogenized organic milk with a 4% fat content per litre and the results are excellent; I also tried with semi-skimmed milk but I did not like the final product as much.  It is at its best warm, but it keeps for a few days in the fridge. It does not have the same texture of true ricotta and feels heavier to the palate, but it is a very good substitute.

I had a batch of this “ricotta” in the fridge and I decided to make a coffee flavored ricotta cream, a homely dessert that exemplifies Italian home cooking at its best: very few ingredients, minimal intervention from the cook.

Ricotta al caffè/Coffe ricotta cream
x 4
fresh ricotta – 350g
instant espresso powder – 4 teaspoons
caster sugar – 80g
pinch of cinnamon (optional)
2 tablespoons rhum (optional)
unsweetened cocoa powder

Combine ricotta, espresso powder, sugar, cinnamon and rum.
Using a hand-held whisk, whip it up to a soft cream. Spoon into espresso cups and dust with some cocoa powder.

In some recipes whipped cream is added but I think this is missing the point.

With this  same cream one could also make what in Italian is called a mattonella, an uncooked refrigerated layered cake, using Petit Beurre biscuits, lightly dipped in coffee (and rum or marsala).

 

15 thoughts on “Ricotta al caffè (coffee ricotta cream and tips on home-made “ricotta”)

  1. I’m lucky in that I have access to full-fat raw milk locally … I think it would be perfect
    for this. Love the idea of a sweetish coffee dessert – yum!

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    1. ciao Linda… how lucky… now here in London raw milk is very expensive (last time I paid 4.50 per 2 pts/humanely reared cows apparently/which means cows that are left to get old) and for this reason I use normal supermarket organic milk.
      if your source is not too expensive, so called home-made ricotta (actually nothing more than fresh cheese) is a fun experiment and the results should be delicious, using great milk. stefano

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                1. the last bit (when she says to stir very slowly and skim the ricotta) is, for me, a little tricky and sometimes I have to raise the temperature. I like this version because it is not lemony and the curds, at least when warm, soft. when they firm up, they become a little harder, but still buttery (I use them in cooking)(.. and far better than anything u can buy/I bought yesterday curds from Riverford: I found them rather disappointing in flavor and dry in texture). happy cheese making 🙂 (another great english tradition, I mean all the repertoire of fresh cheese making)

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  2. I’ve mad a few cheeses at home bug, unfortunately, here in Illinois it is illegal to sell raw milk. Worse yet, much of the dairy sold is ultra-pasteurized. Yes, it has a far lengthier shelf-life but the flavor suffers. Never have used ricotta with espresso, as you have here,, Stefano. I will, though, the next time I make some ricotta. Sounds like a delicious way to serve it.

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    1. Hi John, we are lucky here in the UK, where excellent milk is available, even from supermarkets. Recently I have also found an Italian lady who makes fresh ricotta and mozzarella here in London, from London milk! – really exciting discovery (and the ricotta is very good, I have tried it) + I love this simple ricotta and coffee cream, in any shape or form: served as it is or turned into a cake, using petit beurre biscuits dipped in coffee: a good dessert that can be made in 10 minutes – my kind of cooking.

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  3. How lovely! We went on a cheesemaking kick a few years back when we had access to fresh milk from a friend’s cow. I miss those days! And now I’m just kicking myself for not thinking about a sweet version.

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