This Chocolate Ricotta Cake is a no-bake dessert that can be prepared up to two days in advance. It's incredibly rich and creamy and will delight any chocolate fan!
(This recipe for Chocolate Ricotta Cake was originally published in October 2011, but was updated with new photos in 2019).
Here's my big confession: I'm not a great cake baker. Sure, I've baked enough of them, but there's something about cakes that I find so intimidating. Especially layer cakes. Cupcakes are much friendlier and way more forgiving. They don't generally fall apart and if you bake one batch a bit too long, you can just pop another batch in the oven. Frosting cupcakes is also much more straightforward and if you mess up on one, just move on to the next. You don't need a "crumb layer" of icing or to make sure everything is super smooth. Cake is much more of a commitment, too. I bake cupcakes for fun all the time, but I really never bake cakes unless it's for a special occasion.
Like birthdays. While scouring the internet for a cake to make for my mom's birthday last month, I landed upon this Chocolate Ricotta Icebox Cake from Martha Stewart. After my parents went to Italy a couple years ago, they came back raving about the ricotta pie they tried. Ricotta was once on the bottom of my "I love cheese" list, but when I tried the pie, I absolutely loved it, too. However, we are very much a chocolate family and that ricotta pie involved no chocolate whatsoever. So, when I spotted a chocolate ricotta cake from Martha, I knew it was going to be a winner. I made some alterations and added a couple ingredients to give the cake more depth (seriously, the original recipe only had 4 ingredients) and the final product was perfection. Enormous bonus points to the fact that this cake is SO easy to make. No baking; just waiting while it chills. No layering and no frosting. I can handle that.
CHOCOLATE RICOTTA CAKE RECIPE
The only hard thing about this cake is waiting for it to chill. It's a no-bake cake, but does require at least 6 hours in the fridge. But I love a good make-ahead dessert because it means less stress the day of your gathering. And while this one requires 6 hours in the fridge, it can actually be made up to 2 days in advance! This chocolate ricotta cake can be done, in the fridge, and out of your mind long before your guests arrive.
Start by preparing your 9-inch springform pan. Remove the sides and place a sheet of waxed paper on the bottom, leaving an overhang. Lock the sides in to secure the paper and spray the inside of the pan with cooking spray. Then line the sides with a strip of waxed paper (28 inches long and 4 inches wide).
If you have a double boiler, place your chopped chocolate in that. If you don't have one, place the chocolate in a heat-proof pan over a pot of simmering water (if you want a good one, I'm in love with my Calphalon double boiler [affiliate link], which was gifted to me. I recommend using a semisweet chocolate, but in bar form and not chocolate chip form. Chocolate bars and chips melt very differently and bars are always much nicer. I like these ones (affiliate link) from Ghirardelli.
Stir occasionally until the chocolate is melted.
Blend the ricotta in a food processor until it's nice and smooth, about one minute. Add the melted chocolate and blend until smooth. Mix in the espresso and vanilla, too.
In a large bowl, use a hand mixer (or whisk) to beat the cream until stiff peaks form. Then fold in the chocolate-ricotta mixer.
Place half the wafer cookies in an overlapping fashion on the bottom of the springform pan. Spoon half the chocolate ricotta mixture over the cookies and arrange the remaining cookies on top of the chocolate ricotta mixture. And put the remaining ricotta mixture on top, smoothing it out as much as possible.
Now comes the waiting game. Cover the cake n plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or up to 2 days. You see? It's the best cake ever since you can make it 2 days ahead of time and not be stressing at the last minute!
When you're ready to serve, release the sides of the pan and peel away the waxed paper from the sides of the pan. Lift cake onto a platter and remove the waxed paper from the bottom as you're lifting it. To be honest, I was a little nervous about how the cake looked in the pan as a whole. But as soon as I sliced it, all my fears disappeared.
Oh, the chocolate shavings on top make it look extra pretty, too.
This cake ended up being absolutely incredible, especially considering how easy it is to make. But honestly, it was so goof that I'd make it again even if it was a whole lot more difficult.
The chocolate ricotta is delightfully creamy and rich; almost like chocolate mousse. And then you get a little bit of crunch from the cookies, taking the cake's consistency to a whole new level.
You only really need a little slice of this as it's super rich and satisfying. But you'll definitely be tempted to eat more. Even if you're not necessarily a ricotta cheese fan. I mean, who knew ricotta could make such a ridiculously amazing cake??
If you enjoy ultra rich chocolate cake with lots of depth, definitely try this chocolate ricotta cake. And don't wait for a special occasion either. I mean, it wouldn't hurt to just have this chilling in the fridge to help you get through a long week. Am I right?
Have you ever had a ricotta cake before?
If you like this Chocolate Ricotta Cake, try my Chocolate Mint Chocolate Chip Cupcakes or my Red Wine Chocolate Mini Layer Cakes. I also can't wait to try this Chocolate Chip Cannoli Pie from The Merchant Baker!
Chocolate Ricotta Cake
- 12 oz. semisweet chocolate (not chocolate chips), roughly chopped (plus more for shaving on top)
- 2 15-oz. containers part-skim ricotta cheese
- 1 tsp espresso powder
- 2 Tbsp vanilla extract
- ¾ cup heavy cream
- 1 9-oz. package chocolate wafer cookies
- Remove the sides of a 9-inch springform pan and place a sheet of waxed paper on the bottom, leaving an overhang. Lock the sides in to secure the paper and spray the inside of the pan with cooking spray. Then line the sides with a strip of waxed paper (28 inches long and 4 inches wide).
- Place chocolate in the bowl of a double burner or in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir occasionally until the chocolate is melted.
- Place ricotta in a food processor and blend until it’s smooth, about one minute. Add the melted chocolate and blend until smooth. Mix in the espresso and vanilla, too.
- In a large bowl, use a hand mixer (or whisk) to beat the heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Fold it into the chocolate-ricotta mixture.
- Place half the chocolate wafer cookies in an overlapping fashion on the bottom of the springform pan. Spoon half the chocolate ricotta mixture over the cookies. Arrange the remaining cookies on top of the chocolate ricotta mixture and spoon the remaining ricotta mixture on top, smoothing it out as much as possible.
- over the pan in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or up to 2 days.
- When ready to serve, release the sides of the pan and peel away the waxed paper from the sides of the pan. Life cake onto a platter and remove the waxed paper from the bottom as you’re lifting the cake. Shave additional chocolate over the top.
- Recipe lightly adapted from Martha Stewart's Everyday Food.