Chocolate Ricotta Pudding with Strawberry Sauce
- 2 cups fresh strawberries
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- Butter, for greasing cups
- 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), chopped
- 1 1/2 pounds fresh whole milk ricotta cheese, drained for 2 hours to remove any excess liquid
- 1/4 cup plus 1/3 cup sugar
- 3 large egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 3 large egg whites
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
To make the sauce: Blend the strawberries and sugar in a food processor until smooth. Strain the puree through a fine mesh strainer. Cover and refrigerate. (Can be made 8 hours ahead. Keep refrigerated.)
To make the pudding: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Lightly butter 6 (6-ounce) custard cups. Arrange the cups in a large roasting pan. Melt the chocolate in a medium bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. Set the melted chocolate aside. Blend the ricotta, 1/4 cup of sugar, egg yolks, orange zest, almond extract, cinnamon, and salt in a food processor until very smooth. Blend in the melted chocolate. Transfer the ricotta mixture to a large bowl.
Using an electric mixer with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites in another large bowl with the cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in the remaining 1/3 cup of sugar. Continue beating until semi-firm peaks form. Fold the egg whites into the ricotta mixture. Spoon the mixture into the prepared cups. Fill the pan with enough hot water to come halfway up the sides of the custard cups. Bake until the pudding puffs slightly but the centers are still creamy, about 25 minutes (the pudding will become thick and creamy when cold). Allow puddings to cool slightly before removing from water bath. Remove the custard cups from the bath. Cover and refrigerate until cold, about 3 hours.