Italian Chocolate-Orange Ricotta Pie with Sambuca Spiked Strawberries

Makes one (9-inch) pie.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 stick unsalted butter (chilled)
1 extra large egg or 2 small eggs
1-2 tablespoons ice water

3 eggs
1 cup sugar
the zest of 1 large orange (about 1 tablespoon)
2 teaspoons cointreau or orange extract
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 pound ricotta, drained (minimum 2 hours, or preferably 
1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted and stirred until smooth

Sambuca Spiked Strawberries:
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup water
5 cups sliced strawberries
2 tablespoons Sambuca (an Italian anise flavored liqueur), or more if you'd like a stronger flavor

1. For the crust, combine flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade; pulse several times to combine. Add the butter and pulse about 10 times until the dough becomes pebbly in texture. Add the eggs and pulse repeatedly until the dough begins to stick together. Slow add the ice water by the tablespoon, while using a few long pulses. Add more drops of ice water as necessary, until the dough holds together well. Invert the dough onto a floured work surface. Form a ball and flatten in a disc; wrap the disc in plastic wrap, and refrigerate while preparing the filling. You can keep the dough in the refrigerator for up to 2 days before continuing.

2. If you don’t have a processor, then combine the dry ingredients in a bowl; add chunks of chilled butter, and using a pastry blender or two forks, chop the butter until it resembles little pebbles. At this point, add the eggs and ice water, and stir with a spoon until the dough begins to form. Using your hands and working the dough as little as you can, form a ball, and transfer it to a lightly floured surface. Knead until the dough holds together. Form the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate while preparing the filling. You can keep the dough in the refrigerator for up to 2 days before continuing.

3. To make the filling, add the eggs, sugar, orange zest, and cointreau to a large bowl. Using a hand-mixer on medium-low, mix until well combined. Add the heavy cream, cornstarch, and cinnamon, and beat on low until well combined. Stir in the drained ricotta and melted chocolate, and mix with a rubber spatula until well combined. Place bowl in the refrigerator.

4. Place a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 450 degrees F. Coat your pie plate with cooking spray. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and roll into a 10- inch circle. Transfer the dough to the prepared pie plate, gently pressing it into the bottom and sides. Prick the bottom of the crust a few times with the tip of a fork. At this point, set the crust in the freezer for about 15-20 to get it really chilled, which will make for a flakier crust.

5. Remove the chilled crust from the freezer and pour the filling to about 1/4 of an inch below the top of the crust, as it will puff up slightly when baking.

6. Bake at 450 degrees F for 15 minutes, then lower the temperature to 325 degrees F and cook for 25 minutes, or until the filling puffs up, turns golden, and is “set,” meaning it should not be jiggly when you gently move the pie plate. Remove from oven and let cool on a rack. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

7. For the strawberries, bring water and sugar to a boil in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan. Lower the heat and simmer for about 8-10 minutes, or until the sauce begins to thicken slightly. Add the strawberries and cook 2-3 minutes, or until soft. Turn off heat and stir in sambuca. Cool slightly before serving. If not using immediately, re-heat slightly if the syrup hardens.

Note: If you have some extra filling left over, you can pour it into a small baking dish or ramekin for a crustless version. Just reduce the baking time.

Recipe created by Susan Russo of Food Blogga.