- 160g raw hazelnuts, skin-on
- 110g icing sugar, plus extra for dusting
- 2 tbsp cornflour
- 4 egg whites
- 150g sugar
- 500g (about 4 medium) ripe packham pears, peeled, cored and cut into 1cm pieces
- ⅓ cup (80g) sugar
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 2 tbsp pear liqueur (optional)
- 2 cups (500g) fresh ricotta, drained
- ¾ cup (150g) sugar
- 1 tsp pure vanilla paste
- 1½ cups thickened cream, whipped
- 250g mascarpone
- 3 tsp gelatine
Torta di Ricotta e Pere Method
- Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fan forced). Line two baking sheets with baking paper. Using a 23cm cake tin as a guide, draw a circle in pencil on each piece of baking paper, then turn over baking paper so pencil marks can be seen through paper. Lightly oil paper inside and slightly beyond the two circles with flavourless oil.
- To make the sponge, combine hazelnuts, icing sugar and cornflour in a food processor. Process until the nuts are the texture of medium-fine breadcrumbs. In an electric mixer, beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until soft peaks form. With the mixer running, add the sugar in a few batches.
- Increase speed to high and beat until peaks form that are firm but not dry. Fold in the hazelnut crumb, in three batches, until well combined.
- Divide mixture between the two baking sheets and spread to the edge of the circle. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until layers are dry to the touch and light golden all over, rotating tins top to bottom and front to back halfway through baking.
- Transfer the layers to a flat surface. Trim the edges of the warm layers with a sharp knife, using a cake tin as a guide. Slide layers onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- To make the pear filling, put pears in a small non-stick frying pan. Add the sugar, lemon juice and liqueur. Stir over high heat for 8-10 minutes, or until fruit is tender. Remove from the heat. Transfer fruit to a colander, then drain and cool.
- To make the mousse, press the ricotta through a sieve into a large bowl. Use a spatula to stir in sugar and vanilla until well mixed.
- Use a large spatula to fold 1 cup of the whipped cream and mascarpone into ricotta mixture. Set aside. Put the gelatine into a small bowl. Add 4 tablespoons of hot water to dissolve. Stand for 5 minutes to soften.
- Stir ¼ cup of the ricotta mixture into dissolved gelatine, then use a large spatula to fold mixture into ricotta mousse. Fold in cooled pear pieces and discard pear syrup or reserve for another use.
- To assemble the torta, place a sponge round, top-side up, in the bottom of a 23cm springform tin. Spread ricotta-pear filling over sponge, levelling the top. Top with second sponge.
- Cover tin tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or until set, or for up to a day.
- To serve, release the outer ring from tin and transfer the torta, on its base, to a serving platter. Dust generously with icing sugar and cut into wedges with a sharp serrated knife. Serve with the remaining whipped cream.