Donal Skehan’s lemon, ricotta and pine nut tart

An Italian-inspired dessert something close to a lighter take on a baked cheesecake. Garnish with a dusting of icing sugar, honey and thyme sprigs.

Garnish with a dusting of icing sugar, honey and thyme sprigs

Garnish with a dusting of icing sugar, honey and thyme sprigs

Thu, Apr 20, 2017, 16:36

  • Serves: 8
  • Cooking Time: 60 mins
  • Course: Dessert
  • Cuisine: Italian


  • For the pastry:
  • 200g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 100g butter, very cold and cut into cubes, plus extra for greasing
  • 60g ground almonds
  • 60g icing sugar, sifted
  • Zest of ½ lemon
  • A pinch of salt
  • 3 tbsp ice-cold water
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • For the filling:
  • 300g ricotta cheese
  • 100g mascarpone
  • 100ml cream
  • 5 tbsp honey
  • 6 large free range eggs, seperated
  • Zest of ½ lemon
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 150g pine nuts
  • To serve:
  • Icing sugar, to dust


For the pastry, put the flour and butter into a mixing bowl and, using your fingertips, lightly rub them together until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs.

Add the ground almonds, icing sugar, lemon zest and salt and mix through.

Make a well in the centre and gently incorporate the cold water a little at a time. Just before the dough comes together, add the egg yolk and vanilla extract and mix through. Turn out the mixture onto a clean work surface and knead lightly just until it forms a ball.

Press into a flat circle, wrap in cling film and allow to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes. Grease a 20cm pie dish, 4cm in depth, and dust with flour. Roll out the dough into a circle on a clean, floured work surface, to about 5mm thick.

Transfer the rolled-out pastry to the tin and gently press it into all the sides. Roughly trim off most of the excess but leave some all round the edge of the tin to allow for shrinking.

Don’t panic if the pastry breaks at all, just press it together with your fingers and repair any cracks with a little of the trimmed pastry. Chill in the fridge for 10-15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.

Prick the pastry base with a fork, line with some scrunched-up greaseproof paper and pour in baking beans or dried pulses.

Place in the oven for 15 minutes, then remove the greaseproof paper and beans and cook for a further five minutes until lightly golden. Remove from the oven, trim off the remaining excess pastry and set aside on a wire cooling rack.

For the filling, in a large mixing bowl, beat together the ricotta, mascarpone, cream, lemon zest & juice, honey and egg yolks until smooth.

In another bowl, whisk together the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Take a large dollop of the egg whites and beat this through the ricotta mixture.  Gently fold through the remaining egg whites until just combined.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pastry case and decorate with pine nuts before placing in the oven for 30-35 minutes or until slightly set on the sides but still wobbly in the middle.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack for at least one hour.

Once cool, dust with icing sugar and serve in generous slices.