I have been obsessed with ricotta cake since I first saw a recipe on Bon Appetit’s website. I’m serious. I make this cake for every brunch, dinner party, get together, etc. Well, I make my version of it. I wanted the cake to be a little more moist, so I added extra ricotta, more fat in the form of sour cream, and more butter (that is also browned for extra delicious flavor). Who doesn’t want extra cheese and butter? Assholes, that’s who. But, I digress. I was looking for the combination of ice cream and cake to fall somewhere along the lines of peanut butter and jelly and I really do think I nailed it with this pairing. If you haven’t had black sesame paste, it’s similar to tahini but made with black sesame seeds instead of white and has a glorious, roasty-nutty flavor, similar to roasted peanuts. The black sesame paste swirled into creamy vanilla ice cream, is heavenly and complements the strawberry swirls in the ricotta cake perfectly.
I don’t have a ton to say about this cake in terms of the technique required to make it–it really is incredibly straight forward with little more effort that dumping everything into a bowl. I highly recommend using the best strawberries you can find to make the jam-like mixture that is then swirled into the cake batter before baking.
I will say that ice cream has always been kind of my thing. Every restaurant I’ve ever worked at has at some point ended up serving up my ice cream brain children. From funky flavors like chamomile-creme fraiche and toasted marshmallow with black sesame to classics like rocky road and almost custard-like vanilla ice cream–I love them all. I tend to create ice creams that utilize more fat (i.e. heavy cream) and egg yolks to create almost a frozen custard. It keeps the ice cream from getting icy in the freezer and it’s delightful to eat. You won’t find any low fat ice creams here, I can tell you that for certain. Take your time when making ice cream. Don’t try to rush the cooking process and end up with scrambled eggs instead. That’s really all I have to say about these respective recipes, so go forth and eat all the cake and ice cream.
STRAWBERRY RICOTTA CAKE:
adapted from Bon Appetit
Makes one 10-inch cake
16 oz (454 g) whole milk ricotta
100 g sour cream
15 g vanilla paste or extract
365 g sugar
350 g flour
10 g baking powder
5 g salt
130 g unsalted butter
1 quart strawberries, rinsed, tops removed, and sliced
100 g sugar
20 g water
1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 10-inch cake pan with parchment paper, spray evenly with nonstick spray and dust with flour to keep the cake from sticking to the pan.
2. Add sliced strawberries, sugar and water to a small sauce pan and cook over medium-low heat for 20-25 minutes until jam-like and syrupy. Set aside and let cool.
3. Melt butter in a small sauce pan and continue to cook until golden brown and nutty-smelling. Remove from heat and set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, ricotta, sour cream and vanilla. In a separate bowl, weigh the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder. Fold dry ingredients into wet until evenly mixed. Fold in browned butter until smooth. Spread batter evenly in floured and greased cake pan. Dollop strawberry jam on top of cake and using a knife, swirl strawberries through the batter.
4. Bake cake for 60-70 minutes, or until golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack and then remove from pan. Can be made ahead and stored in the fridge, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap.
BLACK SESAME ICE CREAM
makes 1 1/2 quarts
500 g heavy cream
250 g half and half
200 g sugar
7 egg yolks
10 g vanilla paste or extract
black sesame paste, for swirling (I used about 2 tablespoons for the whole batch)
1. In a medium sauce pan, mix together half and half, heavy cream and vanilla. Warm gently over medium heat until just barely simmering. Turn off heat and set aside.
2. Whisk together egg yolks and sugar in a mixing bowl until thick and pale yellow in color. Whisk 1/2 of the warm cream mixture into the eggs taking care to whisk constantly while doing so*. Whisk egg mixture back into the rest of the cream in the sauce pan (scrape all the egg and sugar from the mixing bowl into the pan) and return to medium-low heat. Cook, whisking constantly, until thick enough to coat a wooden spoon, about 5-7 minutes.
3. Strain through a fine mesh sieve into a medium bowl set over a bowl of ice water; let cool, stirring occasionally. Process custard in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. At the “soft serve” stage, gently fold in black sesame paste so that there are swirls throughout (don’t over-mix!) Transfer to an airtight container; cover. Freeze until firm, at least 4 hours and up to 1 week.
* this technique is referred to as tempering. You are gradually adding hot liquid to egg yolks to bring the temperature up slowly without turning them into scrambled eggs. If you were to immediately add the eggs to the warm cream, your eggs would scramble. The goal is to get them warm enough to be able to add back to the cream mixture without them overcooking.