Black Pepper + Persimmon Ricotta Cake
It all started when my neighbor (Hey Dwayne!), left a extra-large sized Target bag full of Fuyu persimmons on my doorstep. In fairness, I had asked if I could pick a few persimmons from his tree, but when he offered to "grab some for me," I hadn't prepared for the 10 pound plus trove he left on my doorstep. I love persimmons — they're gorgeous, they're great on a cheese plate, they steel the show in a spicy arugula salad — but I hadn't ever done real-deal cooking or baking with persimmons. Then a friend suggested I macerate them, and this cake was born.
The ricotta cake is on my summer hits list — I make it every year top it with whatever berries are in season; June: strawberries, July: blueberries, August: Blackberries. Why not winterize with persimmons? I macerated the persimmons in moscato, an Italian dessert wine that always reminds me of a dimly-lit, snowy holiday dinner, and black pepper, which adds depth and punctuation to the soft, vanilla flavors in the fruit. A perfect pair for the delicate, not-too-sweet ricotta cake.
- 6-8 Fuyu persimmons, thinly sliced
- 1/3 of a bottle of decent Moscato
- 1/2 of Tsp of black pepper corns
Combine ingredients and let sit for 6-24 hours, or until fruit is soft and you the wine and pepper flavor have perfumed the fruit. Strain or spoon out black peppers, reserving for garnish.
- 3/4 cup softened butter
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- zest from 2 large lemons (Meyer if you can get them)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 large eggs, separated, whites beaten until stiff peaks form
- 1 cup full-fat ricotta cheese (If you can get your hands on fresh ricotta, you will taste the difference.)
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- powdered sugar for dusting
- dash of salt
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and butter an 8-inch springform pan.
- Using a wooden spoon or a hand mixer, cream the butter and sugar. Then add the ricotta, vanilla, lemon zest and egg yolks.
- In a separate bowl, combine and mix the dry ingredients. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and combine until well integrated. Then fold in the egg whites.
- Bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean and the sides and top of the cake are beginning to turn golden brown. Unmold and let cool.
- Spoon macerated persimmons and some of their juices on top of cake, allowing the juice to seep into the cake.
- Serve with extra persimmons and fresh whipped cream