Weeknight Cooking

Ricotta and Plum Tartlets

August  1, 2011

Ricotta and Plum Tartlets by thirschfeld


I really did not expect thirschfeld’s Ricotta and Plum Tartlets to be my debt ceiling survival dish, but that’s how it worked out for me.

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Like many of you, I was looking for a home for all the wonderful plums in the market right now, outside of the bag next to my desk, from which I pull a sour little guy every couple of hours as I work, puckering my face dramatically before walking over to the House of Representatives to record a series of insults on the floor.

This recipe caught my attention because it was both fast and easy, made use of ricotta (with which I am slightly obsessed) and required very little brain power beyond sending a telepathic message to thirschfeld that I do not at the present time nor will I ever own ring molds. (I made this in an 8-inch tart pan. So, I suspect, will you. Please do use the cornmeal. And give a few more minutes in the oven to account for the larger pan.)

On the first night, when a roll call vote was just a gleam in the eye of both House Speaker John A. Boehner and Majority Leader Harry Reid, I came home from work on the late side, prepped The Best Canned Tuna You Made Yourself, cut up a cucumber from my garden then doused it with some olive oil (“salad course”), and put this tart together, all while explaining to my husband that soon -- very soon! -- I would be quitting my job to open a bakery.

The really good thing about this recipe is that it is really compatible with ranting and raving, because you don’t have to pay a lot of attention, other than to ponder quickly whether or not your honey is mild in flavor, and to carefully cut the plums in an attractive shape so that your tart(s) is pretty. Don’t be over liberal with the butter, just dot as instructed. If for some reason you don’t have brown sugar, I think your raw/cane stuff would do. Watch this carefully in the oven so as not to cross that invisible line between cheese soup and overcooked.

Delicious: eaten before cooled as instructed.

On day two, when it seemed clear that Mr. Boehner was having trouble rounding up votes for his bill, I wandered home around nine, and ate this tart cold from the fridge for dinner with a glass of Prosecco. While not nutritionally all that sound, it will do the trick.

Day three, after Mr. Boehner’s bill was pulled from the floor, I had tart for my midnight snack -- because that is when I got home. By day four, it became clear that I really should not have been eating this anymore, and so that was the end of that. And so, the tart did not outlast the debt ceiling negotiations, but it did its level best.

Ricotta and Plum Tartlets by thirschfeld

Serves 4


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the drained ricotta into a mixing bowl. Add the yolks, cream, lemon zest, honey and a healthy two pinches of salt. With a wire whisk mix until well combined.

  • Butter and dust with the cornmeal four 3 1/2 inch ring molds. Place the four ring molds onto a parchment lined sheet tray. Dust the bottom of each mold with enough cornmeal that you make a thin layer. Dividing the ricotta equally into each mold smooth and spread it out.

  • Attractively fan out the plum slices across the top of each tart. Sprinkle with a healthy layer of brown sugar across the top and then dot each tart with five 1/8 inch square cubes of cold butter.

  • Bake in the oven for twenty minutes. Remove from the oven and let them come to room temperature. Run a thin bladed knife around the edges to loosen the tart from the mold. Carefully lift the mold. Plate the tartlets and serve


Like Jenny? Put your bumper crop of cherry tomatoes to use with Cherry Tomato Clafoutis.


By day, Jennifer Steinhauer, aka Jenny, covers Congress for The New York Times. By night, she is an obsessive cook.

Jennifer Steinhauer


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Written by: Jestei

The ratio of people to cake is too big.


calendargirl August 12, 2011
This is an uber-adaptable recipe: used a ceramic pie plate, substituted half creme fraiche and half milk for the heavy cream; black plums and yellow peaches; baked for 30 minutes... glorious! Love the cornmeal underlayer. Thank you thirschfeld and jestei!
lksugarman August 3, 2011
Does this recipe require the 3.5" ring molds or will it work in one tart pan? Thx!
jmddc August 2, 2011
You are hilarious! I took my debt ceiling angst out on a David Lebovitz almond cake. We've got a bowlful of plums on the counter and I know just what to do with them.
creamtea August 2, 2011
I just love anything with plums. Peaches, cherries, blueberries may be more rare & short lived, but give me cooked plums (jam, rustic picture cake, this tart) any day. I must try this.
Dulcie&Sarah August 2, 2011
Beautiful! And looks like a great way to utilize homemade ricotta. Yum.
mcs3000 August 2, 2011
Planning to make it this weekend. Btw: Have you tried Bellwether sheep's milk ricotta? Swoon.
boulangere August 1, 2011
I just love it when you try something I've been thinking about but haven't gotten to yet. This is one. And may I say that one of the best things about having been out of the country for 2 1/2 weeks with the daughter, was not once having heard the words "debt" or "ceiling." In any context.
Jestei August 1, 2011
ah. well. eat plums.
drbabs August 1, 2011
Perhaps you should have made more of these and brought them and the prosecco to work with you...that might have had more of a unifying effect than cold pizza. (or would it be a conflict of interest for a reporter to bring baked goods to legislators? Hmmmmmmmmmmm)
Jestei August 1, 2011
no time. no Tiiiiime.
Bevi August 1, 2011
Amen. i am making this in a few days even though I vowed not to turn on my August during the month of August. Oh well, a broken promise (also a clue to the Sunday Times puzzle)
Bevi August 1, 2011
I just read what I wrote - makes no sense - obviously an oven fits in somewhere in the above gibberish.
Jestei August 1, 2011
I thought this was like some cool poem.
dramaticpancake August 1, 2011
This looks like such a great summer treat! I never quite know what to do with plums -- this looks like a delicious way to put them to use!
Jestei August 1, 2011
It is always great to have a chance to use plums.
MrsWheelbarrow August 1, 2011
I need to make this pronto. Wish I could bring home some of the amazing mirabelle and quetsch plums I've sampled this week in Alsace. They would make you very happy.
Jestei August 1, 2011
sneak them in the carry on!
Lizthechef August 1, 2011
Finally, some good news from Washington ;)
Jestei August 1, 2011
a haiku of flavors