Pizza dolce

Angelina’s Pizza Dolce (Italian Cheesecake)

In dessert by Frank Fariello32 Comments

Pizza dolce

For most of us, pizza means just one thing: a round disk of dough topped with tomato, mozzarella and other goodies and baked in a hot oven. But the word ‘pizza’ can also refer to a sweet pie, typically made with ricotta and eggs, flavored with sugar and other things, called pizza dolce di ricotta. Angelina made a simple, crustless version that she simply called pizza dolce, or ‘sweet pizza’. And while her exact recipe seems to have been lost, I’ve been able to recapture the taste of her dish through some trial and error. Here the basic recipe:

Ingredients

For a small pie to serve 4-6 people

500g (1 lb.) ricotta cheese
5 eggs
150g (3/4 cup) sugar, or more to taste
Zest of a small lemon, finely grated
A good pour of sweet anise liqueur (anisette or sambuca)

Directions

Mix all the ingredients together until they form a smooth and uniform whole. Pour into a greased pie pan and bake at 180°C/350°F for about 45 minutes, or until completely set and golden brown on top.

Allow to cool before serving. (The pie will deflate a bit as it cools, which is perfectly normal.)

Pizza dolce (slice)

Notes

Angelina would sometimes add bits of semi-sweet chocolate to the mixture and it is also very common to add bits of canditi (citron)—one or the other but not both. Some recipes call for a bit of cinnamon and/or vanilla extract, which (to my memory) Angelina never did.

The ricotta-to-egg ration in the recipes you can find around the internet vary wildly. Obviously, the more egg, the more ‘custard-y’ the resulting pie. Conversely, the less egg, the more ‘cheese-y’ the pie will taste. I find that a 1 egg per 100 gram ratio—besides being easy to remember—gives a fine, balanced result. Likewise, you can add more or less liqueur to suit your taste.

Some recipes also call for a crust of pasta frolla, or pastry dough, but Angelina never made her pizza dolce that way.

Those of you who know Neapolitan cuisine will no doubt realize that pizza dolce is essentially a vastly simplified version of the classic pastiera napoletana, the traditional ricotta cheese cake made in Naples and environs around Easter time. (I made one for Easter this year, but sadly forgot to photograph it, so I didn’t blog about it…) But although some Italian-Americans do associate pizza dolce with Easter, in our family it was enjoyed year round. After all, it’s so easy to make, there’s just no reason not to!

Angelina’s Pizza Dolce (Italian Cheesecake)

Rating: 51

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: 1 pie, enough for 4-6 servings

Angelina’s Pizza Dolce (Italian Cheesecake)

Ingredients

  • 500g (1 lb.) ricotta cheese
  • 5 eggs
  • 150g (3/4 cup) sugar, or more to taste
  • Zest of a small lemon, finely grated
  • A good pour of sweet anise liqueur (anisette or sambuca)

Directions

  1. Mix all the ingredients together until they form a smooth and uniform whole. Pour into a greased pie pan and bake at 180°C/350°F for about 45 minutes, or until completely set and golden brown on top.
  2. Allow to cool before serving. (The pie will deflate a bit as it cools, which is perfectly normal.)
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Frank FarielloAngelina’s Pizza Dolce (Italian Cheesecake)

Comments

  1. rosa

    ciao Franco, every Christmas and Easter my mother makes Pizza Dolce for my husband and sister in law and for my brother and I she make the Pizza Rustica….she uses the same recipe that you use. Delizioso…

    ciao

  2. Anthony Ferrarese

    Interesting ….I have been following my mothers recipe for many years …Her recipe origanited in APULIA region of italy …town of TORITTO in BARI…Our Family Recipe is basicly the same …We Use 8 oz`s Ricotta plus 4 0z`s of cream cheese /marscopine and six medium eggs ..( one can also add three table spoons all purpose flower ) optional we like to use a gram cracker crust ….either store bought or we crush chocolate wafers and apply to a buttered pan …350 deg. for 45 to 50 minutes depending on oven variations ….orange extract is a favorite in our house …but any can be used ,vanilla almond etc etc . This is a traditional Easter dessert along with …Pizza Rustica another version made with genoa salami and a top crust …

      1. Antonio Christopher Dittmann

        Frank – Have you posted your Pizza Rustica recipe anywhere? Our family recipe died with mother, I’m afraid. I’d love to have a “family-tested” recipe for it.

    1. Antonio Christopher Dittmann

      Thanks for the terrific options! We always out candied oranges and candied, green citrons (yuck!) in ours. I’ve looked forever for this recipe. The name, apparently, varies from region to region. Now that I found this one, I can’t wait till next Easter. I’m making it anyway.

  3. Anonymous

    Of all the good recipes here in the archive, this one is my favorite. Since you first sent it to us, I've made it at least monthly. It is so easy to put together that waiting for a special occasion is unnecessary. This sweet pizza is just marvelous. Thank you so much for introducing it to us.

    Bonnie N.
    Kentucky, USA

  4. Inigo_Hicks

    Hi Frank,

    My mother and I found your site while searching for a “pizza dolce” recipe – my mom is from Pulia, where they call it “calzone” or “italian cheesecake”.

    Each name does not quite evoke the custard like cake. It's almost like a flan. We were so excited to find a recipe with a similar one to the cake my grandmother, also Angela, made.

    Your recipe looked great. The Pizza Dolce is in the oven. I used orange zest instead of lemon. It smells amazing and looks great so far.

    So, thanks you for a wonderful gift that she and I can share on her birthday.

    ….Susanna tutta panna

  5. Rosita Vargas

    sweet pizza fantastic, I love, I love your beautiful recipes, I'm surprised your professionalism will continue looking, I'll follow, affection and hugs.

  6. Frank

    All you guys are just too kind!

    @bakingdevils: Angelina always served 'au naturel' but I'm sure if would be lovely with fruits, poached or otherwise. Some berries, for example, I bet would be lovely, or some candied orange slices…

  7. Chef Dennis

    what a beautiful pie! you just reminded me how I have not made a ricotta pie in much too long!
    Thanks so much for sharing such a wonderful creation with us and for the inspiration!

  8. lostpastremembered

    Oh, I remember this cake. A friends gram would make this when I was a kid… it was so unusual and delicious and not like a cake or a pie that I knew… her gram barely spoke English so she seemed terribly exotic in the midwestern neighborhood I grew up in… thanks for the memory!

  9. Claudia

    Grandma Gresio had a similar dessert – but without the splash of anisette which I am liking. It's sweet simplicity which the Italians do so well.

  10. Ana Helena

    Wow! this look so delicious, I never knew that I could called it pizza. Thanks for the teaching lesson! Thanks for the delicious recipe too. I love fresh ricotta. In Brazil, we use ricotta in our tarts too.

  11. Ellie

    I wonder how this would be if you actually sauteed some finocchio and added that instead of the anise liqueur. Hmmmm :)

  12. bakingdevils

    I love this recipe – no pastry makes it so much nicer and knowing its orgin make it so much more special. I love to read orgins and history about food – makes cooking them so much more fun.

    Would this be served best with some poached fruits? I can't wait to make this…sounds delish!

    -Shilpa

  13. Drick

    right, somewhat like a custard pie we make but without a pieshell and a balance of cheese & egg – pure essence of the two …. lovely pie, I know Angelina is proud…

  14. Rachel

    I'm bookmarking this one–Ricotta pie or cake has been on my list of things to try & this recipe looks so simple, yet so delicious!

  15. Frank

    Thanks, Spicie and Pola!

    And Greg, yes, fruit (especially berries, I would think) should go very nicely with this.

  16. Greg

    Frank this looks really good. Would this be served with fruit? It seems like fruit would be go with this very well.

  17. Pola

    Buona! I used to do a ricotta cake when I was a kid with raisins and really loved it. I don't have the recipe anymore, so I think I will try yours!

  18. Spicie Foodie

    This sweet pizza resembles cheesecake. I never new there were sweet pizza so thanks for educating me. This recipe is going on my list to try and soon. Thanks for sharing Frank!

Your comments are always welcome!