Tips: Yes, this is distinctly unusual. But
ricotta is an ideal base for sweet as well as savory dishes, and
unflavored pasta is a fairly blank canvas on which you can paint
some good flavors. The sauce is optional, but it dresses up the
dish; if you decide you want to use it, it can be made up to 5 days
before serving or while the lasagne bakes. I tried to find fresh
pasta for this dish, but I couldnt do it, so I used dried
noodles. I know at least one company makes a no-boil dried lasagne,
but I wouldnt use that here as I dont think theres
enough liquid in the rest of the recipe to completely soften the
pasta while it bakes. As it is, you cook the lasagne past the normal
al dente stage before layering it with the ricotta filling. You
only need 9 noodles for this dish, but I always cook a tenth to
eat afterward or in case I drop one on the floor.
The filling, which uses whole milk ricotta, is a snap
to make in the food processor. I would have tried to make this with
a part-skim ricotta, but oddly enough, I couldnt find that
when I went marketing, either. Id think that would work here,
though, provided that you pour off any liquid thats accumulated
on top of the ricotta before you use it. I have no idea whether
a fat free ricotta would be successful in this recipe, and I dont
intend to find out.
The completed lasagne will keep for several days in
the fridge, if tightly covered. While I have eaten leftovers cold,
I much prefer them slightly warmed, most easily done by heating
squares at 50% (medium) power in the microwave oven. The finished
dish can also be frozen, but freezing will dry it out somewhat.
- 8 ounces good-quality semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
- Few grains salt
- 1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. heavy cream
- 1-1/2 lbs. (about 2-1/2 packed cups) whole milk ricotta
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 3 eggs, graded large
- 2 Tbsp. almond liqueur
- Grated zest 1/2 large orange
- 3/4 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
- 3/4 cup (about 4-1/2 ounces) finely snipped dried apricot
Pasta and Cooking:
- 10 lasagne noodles
- 1 Tbsp. tasteless vegetable oil
For Sauce: In small heatproof bowl, combine chopped chocolate
and salt. In small heavy-bottomed saucepan over low heat, heat cream,
stirring occasionally, till very hot. Remove from heat. Pour about
half of hot cream over chocolate. Allow to stand for a minute or
two, then stir or whisk gently until smooth. (If necessary, place
bowl of chocolate over simmering water on low heat--water should
not touch bottom of bowl--and stir frequently just until melted
and smooth. Remove from heat and hot water.) Gradually stir in remaining
cream. If not using immediately, cool briefly, then chill, covering
tightly when cold. Store in refrigerator for up to 5 days; reheat
Generous 1-3/4 cups
For Filling: In workbowl of food processor fitted with steel
blade, combine ricotta, sugar, and heavy cream. Cover, process at
high speed about 20 seconds. Scrape down bowl with rubber spatula.
Cover again; process at high speed about 30 seconds longer, or until
smooth. Add eggs and almond liqueur. Cover; process at high speed
about 20 seconds, until well-combined. Mixture will be thin. For
ease in handling, transfer to a liquid measuring cup or pitcher
of at least 3-1/2 cup capacity. Stir in orange zest. Set aside in
refrigerator until needed.
In small bowl, combine chips and apricot pieces. With spoon, blend
to mix thoroughly. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and set aside
at room temperature until needed.
For Pasta and Assembly: Heat about 5 quarts of water to a rapid
boil in a heavy-bottomed 6 quart pot. When water boils rapidly,
add oil and about 1 teaspoon salt ( its not necessary to measure
the exact quantity of salt). When water returns to rapid boil, add
lasagne noodles, one at a time. Stir. When water returns to boil,
begin timing. Noodles must boil until they are slightly past the
al dente stage. If you use Ronzoni lasagne noodles, as I did here,
boil them for 11 minutes.
While noodles cook, line two baking sheets with aluminum foil,
shiny side up. When noodles are done, remove, one at a time, to
one of the cookie sheets, spreading each noodle out to full length.
Allow to cool till just warm (this doesnt take long). While
noodles cool, adjust rack to center of oven; preheat oven to 350
degrees F. Butter a 7 by 11 inch pan, at least 1-3/4 inches deep.
Remove filling from refrigerator.
Line the bottom of the baking pan with three of the cooked noodles.
Noodles may overlap slightly; if necessary, trim short ends so theyll
fit into the pan. Carefully pour about half of the filling on top
of the noodles; if necessary, spread to cover them. Sprinkle half
of the chocolate-chip apricot mixture evenly over the filling. Repeat
this with three more noodles for a second pasta layer, the remainder
of the filling, and the rest of the chip-apricot mixture. The top
layer should be of cooked noodles; trim the short ends, but I also
like to trim one curly edge from each noodle so theres very
minimal or no overlap. Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil.
Bake the covered lasagne for 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from oven.
Allow to stand, covered, for 15 to 20 minutes before serving (do
not omit this standing period). While lasagne stands, if youre
using the chocolate sauce, reheat it now: scrape as much as you
think youll need into a small heatproof bowl and place over
simmering water on low heat--water should not touch bottom of bowl--just
until warm, stirring often. Remove foil cover from lasagne. Serve
lasagne in squares, pouring chocolate sauce over the top and sprinkling
on some grated white chocolate. Alternatively, allow to cool briefly,
then chill, covering tightly when cold. As this cools, some of the
top noodles may curl up slightly, exposing some filling--OK. Store
in refrigerator for up to 3 days or freeze (if you freeze this,
cut it into serving-size squares prior to freezing).
To reheat, if lasagne has been frozen, defrost, still in wrappings,
in refrigerator. If necessary, cut squares of lasagne of desired
size. Reheat in microwave at 50% (medium) power for short intervals,
just until warm. Serve with warmed sauce, if desired.
Yield: 12 servings
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