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Melanzane al cioccolato (Eggplant layered and filled with ricotta and chocolate)

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Melanzane al cioccolato (Eggplant layered and filled with ricotta and chocolate)

Rosetta

As I promised you in the last post here is the recipe for the eggplant dessert that is prepared during August in towns along the Amalfi Coast. I'll show you what all the steps look like, along with some commentary. The actual recipe will be below the photos. First, the ingredients. Two eggplants, peeled and sliced thinly, and coated with flour:

A mixture of sugar, cinnamon and lemon zest will be used to coat the fried slices:

For the filling, you'll need homemade or good store-bought ricotta:

Amaretti cookies, toasted almonds and candied orange peel complete the filling:

The first layer of eggplant will cover the bottom of the baking dish and also be draped over its sides. So, after you add the first layer of sweetened ricotta and chocolate sauce, the results  should look like this:

You will be topping the  third layer of filling with more eggplant, and then covering the whole dish with the overhanging slices. It should look like a package:

Here is a cross section after it's been baked:

Give it a try...

... and let me know what you think!

Melanzane al Cioccolato

(Eggplant layered and filled with ricotta and chocolate)

This recipe, as is prepared in the town of Maiori, near Amalfi, is a slight variation from the one more widely found, in that it contains ricotta in the filling. To make the original version, omit the ricotta and egg from the filling and refrigerate to set, without baking. Just serve, accompanied with a small glass of iced limoncello.

2 eggplants, about one pound each

Flour for coating the eggplant

1 cup sugar

½ teaspoon cinnamon

Grated peel of two lemons

Chocolate Sauce (see below for the recipe)

Filling

1 cup ricotta, passed through an extra-fine strainer

1/4 cup sugar

1 ounce amaretti cookies, crushed

2 ounces whole blanched almonds, toasted and finely chopped

1 ounce candied orange peel, chopped

2 eggs, lightly beaten

Butter and sugar for coating baking dish

1. In a large, shallow dish, mix the cup of sugar, cinnamon and lemon peel and set aside.

2. Peel and thinly slice the eggplants lengthwise, about ¼ inch thick. Heat enough olive oil in a 10-inch skillet to come 1/2 inch up the sides of the pan.

3. Lightly coat the eggplant slices in flour and fry until golden on both sides. Remove and place on a platter lined with paper towels. Continue frying until all the eggplant slices have been cooked.

4. While still warm, dip each slice of eggplant in the flavored sugar and press to coat both sides. Set aside until ready to assemble.

5. Make the chocolate sauce (see attached recipe).

6. In a bowl, combine the ricotta, ¼ cup sugar, amaretti cookies, chopped almonds and candied orange peel in a bowl.  Blend in the eggs and set aside.

7. To Assemble: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Butter a baking dish (9 x 9 x 2 inches) and coat with granulated sugar. Line the bottom and sides of the baking dish with slices of eggplant, arranging them so there are eggplant slices draping over the sides of the dish. Spread one third of the ricotta filling over the eggplant, and top the ricotta filling with a light layer of chocolate sauce. Without draping any eggplant over the sides this time, repeat the layering of eggplant, ricotta filling and chocolate sauce two more times, so you have three layers of each.  Finish the dessert by topping with a fourth, and final layer of eggplant and fold the eggplant draped over the sides of the dish back over the dessert to close it like a package.

8.  Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes, placing a cookie sheet underneath the baking dish to catch any sugar syrup that bubbles over. Remove the baking dish from the oven and allow it to cool.

When the dessert has cooled, it can be sliced and served with additional chocolate sauce or powdered sugar.

This dessert can also be made using individual ramekins following the same layering process as described above, spreading the ricotta filling to about ¼ inch thick.  Turn the dessert out of the ramekin before serving.

Serves 12.

Copyright 2005, Rosetta Costantino. All rights reserved.

And here is the recipe for the chocolate sauce.

Chocolate Sauce

8 ounces good quality bittersweet chocolate, cut in small pieces

1 cup heavy whipping cream

1. Place the chopped chocolate in a small bowl.

2. Place the heavy whipping cream in a small pot and bring it just to a boil. Remove from the heat and pour the hot cream over the chopped chocolate. Let set for two minutes without stirring, then gently stir until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Let the sauce cool until it reaches the desired thickness and consistency.

Copyright 2005, Rosetta Costantino. All rights reserved.