What do you bring to a job interview?
When I was trying to get a job at a radio station in Delaware I arrived at my interview with a folder full of college newspaper clippings and a story I specifically did for the interview about a mushroom festival. Then when I went on the job interview from hell in Johnstown, Pennsylvania I shot a news piece about the local economy.
When I broke up with news and got myself a regular job, I brought this cannoli tart to a second interview.
I like to think I’m a qualified person but who can turn down a crispy almond tart shell that is filled with ricotta, mascarpone, and shards of chocolate. Yeah, no one. I made this tart in mini-form for the interview but if you make one big tart you can double the filling and get a better crust to cheese ratio.
Also, if you make this tart then you can overcome what I think are the pitfalls of a traditional cannoli. A good cannoli is filled to order and can’t travel very far without losing the crispy shell. And you’d turn down a shell that wasn’t filled to the brim with ricotta but I often find the filling to be overwhelmed with richness and sugar.
This tart solves both of those problems. The shell stays crisp days after baking, if it lasts that long, and the filling is smooth and makes for a satisfying dessert but won’t make your teeth ache.
To pump up a basic tart shell, chopped almonds add crunch and a nutty flavor. You could use pie dough but a tart shell comes together so much quicker. The sandy crumbs are pressed in a pan with a removable bottom and then sits in the fridge waiting for the filling. Flaky pie dough would require a more delicate hand and par-baking.
With the shell taken care of you can turn your attention to the creamy cannoli filling. I cut ricotta with mascarpone. Sometimes ricotta is a little grainy for my taste and the texture of mascarpone is smooth perfection. I’m greedy and boosted the amount of cheese in the filling so my shell was filled to the brim.
Maybe I’m not greedy, a half empty container of ricotta will live in the back of my fridge until things get watery and gross, and go in the trash. I’m simply making the most of what I have. And if I’m thinking ahead then I try to make sure what I have is at room temperature. Thick mascarpone doesn’t mix well straight from the fridge. But when you let the cheese come to room temperature it folds easily into the ricotta-based filling.
In addition to the ricotta and mascarpone, an egg, a few teaspoons of sugar and chocolate round out the filling. You can use milk chocolate if you like your cannoli on the sweet side but I prefer semi-sweet. I like the unevenness of chopped chocolate instead of perfectly shaped chips. Every slice of this cannoli tart is different and every bite has a different amount of chocolate.
Wait to add the egg last to the filling because you’ll want to keep dipping a spoon into the bowl and the raw egg kind of ruins that party. But once you slide the tart in the oven then you are 40 minutes from heaven. Okay, a little more than 40 minutes because you should let the thing cool before cutting it.
Like a cheesecake, the cannoli tart will be a little jiggly in the center when it’s done but a cool down goes a long way to firming things up. If leaving the tart on the counter to cool is too tempting for you then pop it in the fridge to get out of your sight and get cold quick.
- ¼ cup almonds, chopped
- 2 cups flour
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 egg
- ⅓ cup cold butter, cubed
- 1 tablespoon milk
- 16 oz ricotta
- 1 cup mascarpone
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 4 ounces chocolate, chopped
- 1 egg
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- If using a food processor, pulse almonds a few times to chop the nuts up. Then add the flour, sugar, salt, and cinnamon to the food processor and pulse a few more times. Cut the butter into cubes and add to the mix and pulse again until the flour and butter form coarse crumbs. Add milk and egg and mix until the dough forms a ball in the food processor bowl.
- If making the crust by hand, roughly chop the almonds and whisk together with flour, sugar, salt, and cinnamon. Cut the butter into cubes and, using your hands, work the butter into the flour mix until the butter and flour form coarse crumbs. Then stir in the egg and milk.
- Press the crust into a large tart shell with a removable bottom. Depending on the size of your pan, I either use a 9 or 11 inch pan, you might have extra dough.
- Refrigerate the crust while you make the tart filling.
- Roughly chop chocolate.
- Stir together the ricotta, mascarpone, and sugar. It's easiest to combine the cheeses if they are at room temperature.
- Mix in the chocolate and egg.
- Pour the filling into the crust and bake for 35-40 minutes. The crust will be golden brown and the filling will puff a little bit. Similar to a cheesecake, you want the tart filling to slightly jiggle when you take it out of the oven.
- Let cool completely before serving.