If you love light and fluffy cheesecakes and your idea of heaven is Papa's ricotta cheesecake may I introduce you to its gorgeous cousin from the Amalfi Coast? This Italian ricotta and pear cake is sandwiched with two outer layers of hazelnut dacquoise and the filling is sheer creamy, fluffy heaven. Rum poached pears are suspended like jewels in a creamy, soft ricotta cheese filling. It's the sort of cake that feels so light when you're eating it that you swear that it was calorie free. A girl can dream...
This gorgeous cake is actually the creation of an Italian pastry chef called Sal de Riso who has a shop called Minori on the Amalfi Coast. It's a gorgeous cake that it infinitely adaptable. We happen to be in winter so pears it is but you can use any sort of fruit you like. To make this easier to serve you can also serve this as an ice cream cake particularly if you slice it up prior to freezing.
It is a rather special cake so save this beauty for a special occasion. My version is a simplified version of Sal's adapted for a 20cm/8inch tin. And my last piece of advice is that you really must make this and or at least try this cake at least once. Even if you have not the will nor want to make this, you can get this at some Italian restaurants - I first tried this at Lucio Pizzeria in Darlinghurst where they call it Torta di Ricotta e Pere. It must be eaten at least once.
Today Dear Reader, I'm going to leave you with this list of 50 pieces of advice apparently from an 80 year old man. It's a long list and it came up on my facebook feed so I really don't know who to credit it to. But as I read it I thought that it was actually real, practical advice that I mostly agree with.
Advice from an 80 year old man 1. Have a firm handshake. 2. Look people in the eye. 3. Sing in the shower. 4. Own a great stereo system. 5. If in a fight, hit first and hit hard. 6. Keep secrets. 7. Never give up on anybody. Miracles happen everyday. 8. Always accept an outstretched hand. 9. Be brave. Even if you're not, pretend to be. No one can tell the difference. 10. Whistle. 11. Avoid sarcastic remarks. 12. Choose your life's mate carefully. From this one decision will come 90 per cent of all your happiness or misery. 13. Make it a habit to do nice things for people who will never find out. 14. Lend only those books you never care to see again. 15. Never deprive someone of hope; it might be all that they have. 16. When playing games with children, let them win. 17. Give people a second chance, but not a third. 18. Be romantic. 19. Become the most positive and enthusiastic person you know. 20. Loosen up. Relax. Except for rare life-and-death matters, nothing is as important as it first seems. 21. Don't allow the phone to interrupt important moments. It's there for our convenience, not the caller's. 22. Be a good loser. 23. Be a good winner. 24. Think twice before burdening a friend with a secret. 25. When someone hugs you, let them be the first to let go. 26. Be modest. A lot was accomplished before you were born. 27. Keep it simple. 28. Beware of the person who has nothing to lose. 29. Don't burn bridges. You'll be surprised how many times you have to cross the same river. 30. Live your life so that your epitaph could read, No Regrets 31. Be bold and courageous. When you look back on life, you'll regret the things you didn't do more than the ones you did. 32. Never waste an opportunity to tell someone you love them. 33. Remember no one makes it alone. Have a grateful heart and be quick to acknowledge those who helped you. 34. Take charge of your attitude. Don't let someone else choose it for you. 35. Visit friends and relatives when they are in hospital; you need only stay a few minutes. 36. Begin each day with some of your favourite music. 37. Once in a while, take the scenic route. 38. Send a lot of Valentine cards. Sign them, 'Someone who thinks you're terrific.' 39. Answer the phone with enthusiasm and energy in your voice. 40. Keep a note pad and pencil on your bed-side table. Million-dollar ideas sometimes strike at 3 a.m. 41. Show respect for everyone who works for a living, regardless of how trivial their job. 42. Send your loved ones flowers. Think of a reason later. 43. Make someone's day by paying the toll for the person in the car behind you. 44. Become someone's hero. 45. Marry only for love. 46. Count your blessings. 47. Compliment the meal when you're a guest in someone's home. 48. Wave at the children on a school bus. 49. Remember that 80 per cent of the success in any job is based on your ability to deal with people. 50. Don't expect life to be fair
So what did you think of the list? It came from an etiquette and manners page and that never goes astray. I'd only add one thing: when you visit someone, bring a cake, this cake preferably.
So tell me Dear Reader, what did you think of this list? And do you usually bring a gift when you visit someone? Have you ever tried this cake?
Ricotta & Pear Cake
- 160g/5.7ozs eggs (weighed in the shell)
- 100g/3.5ozs. caster or superfine sugar
- 125g/4ozs. ground hazelnuts
- 45g/1.6ozs. flour
- 35g/1.25ozs. melted butter, cooled slightly
- zest of 1 lemon
- 300ml/10.6flozs. water
- 200g/7ozs. caster or superfine sugar
- 3 tablespoons rum
- 3 tablespoons pear liqueur
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 350g/12.36ozs. pears (about 2 large pears), peeled, cored and diced
- 1 cup cream
- 500g/1.1lbs. Ricotta
- 2 sheets titanium gelatine
Step 1 - First make the dacquoise layers. Line two 20cm/8inch springform tins with parchment on the base and sides and preheat oven to 180C/350F. Whisk the eggs and sugar until quite thick and pale-about 4-5 minutes, you don't want it too runny. Then fold in hazelnut meal, flour, butter and lemon zest. Divide among both tins and bake for 20 minutes or until lightly toasted in colour. Cool and release one from the tin (you can keep the other one in the tin as you'll use it later).
Step 2 - Put the water and sugar onto boil and add the rum, pear liqueur and vanilla. Place the pear pieces in the syrup and simmer with the lid off until the pear is soft. My pears were quite hard so they needed about 10 minutes. Once the pears are cooked remove from the syrup with a slotted spoon to cool. Then reduce the syrup until you get 1/2 cup of syrup.
Step 3 - Soak the gelatine in cold water for 5 minutes. Then squeeze the soft gelatine leaves and add to the still hot but cooling syrup and stir well.
Step 4 - Whip the cream until you get soft peaks, then add the ricotta and whip until incorporated. Then pour in the cooled syrup. Stir in the pear pieces and then place this mixture in the springform with the cake layer still on the bottom. Smooth down the top and then place the other cake layer on top. Chill overnight and then slice with a hot knife the next day.