Chocolate Ricotta Cake

A yogurt cake recipe from Susan Herrmann-Loomis popped up on one of my feeds recently. At quick glance I had all of the ingredients on hand except the yogurt. I did however have homemade ricotta from another recipe.

I got to wondering if I could substitute the yogurt for the ricotta with everything else being equal or almost equal. I gave it a go and I must say it was good but very dense. In other words, I wouldn’t turn down a piece. However, I thought I could improve on a good thing.

After some research I came up with the following: changed out a bit of the butter for canola oil (for added moisture), added more baking powder (for less density), and more chocolate (just because).

5 tablespoons (2.5 oz / 72 g) unsalted butter, plus enough to butter pan
2 tablespoons (1 oz/ 25 g) canola oil
3 ounces (3 oz / 85 g) bittersweet chocolate (at least 65%)
1 3/4 cups (8 oz / 235 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
Pinch fine sea salt
1 cup (7 oz / 200 g) granulated sugar
1 cup (8 oz / 255 g) plain whole milk ricotta
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Butter bottom and sides of a 9-inch round cake pan. Line with round of parchment paper. Set aside. Move a rack to the lower third of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees F.

Melt butter in a small pan over low heat. Remove from heat, add canola oil and set aside to cool. Place chocolate in another small bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water and melt stirring often and being careful not to splash any water into the chocolate. Remove from heat to cool.

Set a seive over a medium bowl and sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment beat together the ricotta and sugar until smooth. Add the eggs one at a time and beat until each is incorporated before adding the next. Drizzle in the butter/oil mixture and continue beating until incorporated. Add the sifted dry ingredients and mix just until combined.

Dollop two-thirds (about 600 g) of the batter into the prepared cake pan. Fold the melted chocolate into the remaining one-third of the batter until it is thoroughly combined. Dollop the chocolate batter in between the dollops of plain batter. Run an off-set spatula or butter knife through the batter several times to swirl the two batters together and smooth top with an off-set spatula.

Bake cake in lower third of the oven until it is slightly mounded and a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the middle comes out clean, about 35 – 40 minutes.

Remove cake from the oven and let cool in the pan for about 15 minutes, then turn it out onto a wire cooling rack. Serve when it is fully cool, or the following day. If you like, dust the top with powdered sugar and serve with a bit of  your favorite jam, marmalade, dollop of whipped cream or creme fraiche. Or enjoy it without any adornment with a cup of coffee or tea.

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