While browsing through the newspaper yesterday, I was taunted by a gigantic piece of French Silk Pie in a Baker’s Square advert, and I’ve been obsessing about pie ever since. Cherry, banana cream, and Dutch apple, running rampant through my thoughts. Brainwashed by creamy chocolate custard and perfectly piped whipped cream. Thankfully, I work in a test kitchen, so my pie fixation didn’t hinder today’s productivity. I celebrated National Pie Day by making Lemon Ricotta Pie with Red Grapes, and by eating it for dinner.
Before today, I’d never had ricotta pie, but I’m a cheesecake lover and knew that a tangy ricotta custard would have a similar flavor. More importantly, there was an unopened container of ricotta languishing in the fridge, left over from lasagna experiments a couple of weeks ago. Remember my love of odds and ends? I practice that love at work, too. Even though I really wanted chocolate cream pie today, I took care of that lingering ricotta cheese instead, and ended up with a darn tasty new pie recipe to add to my arsenal.
The texture of this pie is slightly granular from the ricotta. I’m thinking that pulsing the cheese in a food processor instead of creaming it with a mixer would produce a smoother, more refined custard, but I actually didn’t mind the roughed up texture. It really differentiated this pie from a typical cheesecake. Bitter lemon zest was offset by a traditional, sweet graham cracker crust. Pretty red grapes tossed with a bit of brown sugar and lemon juice made a great accompaniment. After all, cheese and grapes are a classic combo. Wine and brie, anyone?
Happy Pie Day 2012, y’all.
Lemon Ricotta Pie with Red Grapes
1-1/3 cups graham cracker crumbs
3/4 cup granulated sugar, divided
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1 container (15 oz.) ricotta cheese
1 lemon, zested and 2 tablespoons juice reserved
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup seedless red grapes, halved
Preheat the oven to 350°.
Stir together the graham cracker crumbs, 1/4 cup of the granulated sugar, and melted butter. Press firmly into the bottom and sides of a 9 in. pie plate. Bake 8-10 minutes, or until the crust is fragrant and lightly browned. Cool shell slightly.
Lower oven temperature to 300°. With an electric mixer, cream ricotta and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each. Add lemon zest, vanilla extract, cornstarch, and salt and mix until well incorporated. Pour into crust. Bake 37-40 minutes, or until the center of pie jiggles only slightly. Cool at least one hour.
In a small bowl, stir together the lemon juice and brown sugar until the sugar dissolves. Toss with grape halves. Spoon over the top of the pie. Serve warm or at room temperature.