homemade ricotta, inspired by home made bklyn

Back in March, Laura organized and threw the most perfect for me bridal shower imaginable. It was a brunch with my seven dearest friends at the sweetest possible Brooklyn restaurant, and she planned the whole thing all the way from Boston. It was truly one of the most special days of my life so far. I felt spoiled, grateful, treasured, full of love, and just plain full: we ate SO well. Pastries and biscuits, three different kinds of scrambled eggs, granola and yogurt, crispy bacon, gorgeous fruit salad, french toast, and the most delicious ricotta to spread on thick pieces of toast or to mix with fruit compote. That ricotta made an impact. Three of the girls and I have been back to have it again (some of us twice), and it was such a hit that it inspired me to try making my own.

brunch table

note the tasty ricotta in the midst of all that pretty.

Laura had made ricotta herself a while ago and told me how easy it was, but I hesitated (until I tasted the ricotta at home made bklyn, that is). Anything involving a candy thermometer and intentionally causing curdling didn’t exactly strike me as easy, and I was skeptical about whether I could really make something at home that would taste that much better than the ricotta I buy at the store. Oh me of little faith. This ricotta is in fact really easy to put together, and the taste is fantastic. It’s smooth and creamy, fresh, and the teeny tang of lemon makes it beautifully bright. And, you get to control the texture, which you certainly can’t say about store bought.
You need only four ingredients for this recipe (whole milk, heavy cream, lemon juice, and salt), but it does require two pieces of special equipment: a candy thermometer, and cheese cloth. To get yourself set, line a colander or sieve with three layers of cheesecloth, and set it inside a larger bowl–you want the colander/sieve to sit a few inches above the bottom of the bowl, so your ricotta has room to drain. Combine the milk, cream, and salt in a medium pot over medium heat and allow the mixture to come up to 190 degrees. As soon as you see 190 on your candy thermometer, pull the mixture off the heat, add the lemon juice, and stir a few times to incorporate. Let the mixture sit for about five minutes, until curds start to form, and then pour everything into your cheese cloth lined bowl. Now, you just get to wait. Want a very wet ricotta? Let it drain for half an hour. Prefer something firmer? Keep it going for anywhere up to three. I let mine go for close to three, and was really happy with the texture. Firm, but plenty spreadable.
The day I decided to make this, Hal and I had invited one of my best gals, along with her husband and sweet little girl, over for dinner. Since Laureen was one of the biggest fans of the ricotta at my shower, it felt like an especially fun treat to make it for her. I had some doubts during the process, but those were all alleviated when I peeled the cheese cloth away and took my first real taste. Dang is this stuff good. I drizzled it with olive oil and served it with roasted cherry tomatoes as an appetizer, but we ate plenty just by itself on bread. Laureen said I should sell it at Smorgasburg, which feels like about the highest food compliment possible. And when I told her I was going to write about it, she allowed as how she thinks the recipe was at 99% and that we should have a retry to get it up to 100%…but I think that was really just a sneaky (and totally understandable) request for more ricotta.

best possible day after dinner party breakfast*

I didn’t bother with step by step process photos, in part because I was in run around pre dinner party mode, and in part because Honestly Yum, where I found the recipe, already has such fantastic ones. I looked at them obsessively while making this, and can’t recommend that enough. Very reassuring.

*The night that I made this ricotta, our main course was juicy Asian oven roasted pulled pork, from White on Rice Couple. I had glanced at their blog occasionally, but when my dad bought and loved their cookbook, I went back for a second look. So worth it! This pork was delicious and super simple. We had the pork in tacos at dinner, and on toast–with ricotta, of course–the next morning. And writing this has made me remember that there’s still a quart container full of pulled pork patiently waiting in the freezer. Score.

7 thoughts on “homemade ricotta, inspired by home made bklyn

  1. Yay, I love fresh ricotta! But I’ve never had success with lemon juice – I always need to resort to vinegar. Will check out their technique and give it along go, since I think lemon sounds nicer and more subtle.

  2. This sounds super-tasty, but isn’t more marscapone than ricotta? I thought ricotta was made starting with whey from making some other cheese.

    • Hi Nathan! Super late reply, but–you may be right! Still, I found enough recipes using this method and calling it ricotta for my own comfort level. Hope all is well with you and your fam!

  3. Pingback: post about toast | butter poached

  4. Pingback: 10 luxurious things to eat on new year’s eve | butter poached

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