The savory version of these individual sweet ricotta pies are very popular on the islands but the sweet ones are rarely seen. They start to make an appearance in a few of the local bakeries as Easter or Christmas approach.
Visually they appear festive, with brightly coloured red and green sprinkles and candid peel and cherries.
This recipe was passed on to me by Renato Briffa. His father owned a very popular bakery in the City Centre in 1955 and he the best specialist for local sweets who I have met. He freely shares his father’s old secrets and recipes from a collection of hand written old diaries.
Sweets make people happy and although I am not a huge fan of sweets, I love anything with ricotta, be it savory or sweet. Making sweets though makes me happy and this is when I feel close to being in heaven.
For the sweet ricotta pies you will need:
For the dough
200g chilled butter cut up in cubes
pinch of salt
4 tablespoons sugar
about 1/2 cup water
Rub the butter into the flour until it looks like breadcrumbs. Add the salt and sugar.
Add the egg and work in and then the water gradually. You may not need to add all the water. Knead the dough. Wrap in cling film and leave in the fridge to rest for at least half an hour.
For the filling
1/2 cup mix of grated dark chocolate and mixed peel
2 tablespoons sugar
Mash up the ricotta. Add all the other ingredients and stir until even.
Making the pies
Roll out the dough and using a 4 inch circular cutter, cut out rounds on a well floured surface.
Put a spoon of the ricotta mixture in the middle if the circle.
Pinch the edge of the dough into pleats until you have done it all around. You are trying to get an open funnel surface. Either pipe some more of the ricotta mix into the pie to fill the neck of the funnel. You can also use a teaspoon but do not fill it right to the top as the filling will expand and rise.
Brush the pastry with egg wash.
Bake at 200C for about half an hour until they are a golden color.
For the topping :
200 ml double cream
2 spoons sugar
Whisk together until thick.
And for the colored sugar : 1 drop each of green and red food coloring to every 4 spoons of sugar. Mix together.
I used a piping bag to top the pies with cream but you can spoon it in.
Top each pie with a cherry and sprinkle some green and red colored sugar for a festive look.