Angelina’s Pizza Dolce (Italian Cheesecake)

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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32 Responses to “Angelina’s Pizza Dolce (Italian Cheesecake)”

  1. rosa
    16 January 2014 at 04:03 #

    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

    • 9 February 2014 at 14:56 #

      I guess great minds think alike, as they say.

  2. 6 February 2013 at 09:39 #

    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 …

    • 10 February 2013 at 20:50 #

      Sounds nice, Anthony. And I love pizza rustica. I plan to blog about it come Eastertime.

      • Antonio Christopher Dittmann
        7 April 2013 at 22:52 #

        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.

        • 14 April 2013 at 18:12 #

          Yes indeed, Antonio! Just a couple of weeks ago. It’s a featured post on the front page of the site. Thanks for your comment!

    • Antonio Christopher Dittmann
      7 April 2013 at 22:49 #

      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. mybedda3
    27 January 2013 at 07:44 #

    Making this today!

  4. Anonymous
    25 June 2012 at 06:24 #

    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

  5. 6 August 2011 at 05:05 #

    What a dish, pizza is awesome.My brother loves it very much. in other words he is mad for it.i will surely prepare i for him.

  6. 26 June 2011 at 09:12 #

    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

  7. 17 June 2011 at 20:00 #

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

  8. 12 June 2011 at 22:28 #

    That is beautiful Frank.
    Never knew of another description of pizza. Interesting, good to know.
    LL

  9. 12 June 2011 at 13:33 #

    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…

  10. 8 June 2011 at 17:14 #

    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!

  11. 8 June 2011 at 06:27 #

    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!

  12. 7 June 2011 at 19:54 #

    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.

  13. 7 June 2011 at 16:43 #

    To an Abruzzese, “pizza dolce” refers to a three layer sponge cake, drizzled with liquor/espresso combination and filled with cream.
    http://casa-giardino.blogspot.com/2011/04/traditional-easter-desserts-from.html

  14. 6 June 2011 at 18:08 #

    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.

  15. 6 June 2011 at 14:11 #

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

  16. 6 June 2011 at 13:52 #

    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

  17. 6 June 2011 at 13:20 #

    This is so innovative and creative!

  18. 6 June 2011 at 08:12 #

    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…

  19. 6 June 2011 at 00:00 #

    Well, that's a lovely tart! I can smell it all the way from Singapore. Hahaha!

    Dropping by from Luxury Indulgence

  20. 5 June 2011 at 18:13 #

    Wow, that look so light and delicious!

  21. 5 June 2011 at 17:41 #

    Yes, this does remind me of a crustless cheesecake – pizza dolce or cheesecake, Angelina had a winner here.

  22. 5 June 2011 at 17:32 #

    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!

  23. 5 June 2011 at 16:55 #

    Sounds wonderful! Will have to try this. Thanks for sharing.

  24. 5 June 2011 at 16:23 #

    Thanks, Spicie and Pola!

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

  25. 5 June 2011 at 11:50 #

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

  26. 5 June 2011 at 11:05 #

    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!

  27. 5 June 2011 at 10:43 #

    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!

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