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Italian torta di riso (rice cake) looks like cheesecake but isn't

Patience is worth the payoff with Torta di Riso.

Ellen Folkman | Special to the Times

Patience is worth the payoff with Torta di Riso.

I am looking for a recipe for Italian cheesecake that contains rice. Hope someone has one. Thank you.

Lorraine Forson, St. Petersburg

Melissa Myers of Treasure Island shares a recipe for torta di riso, or rice cake, that was given to her son when he was studying in the Tuscan region of Italy. The recipe is from chef-author-teacher Martha Corsi with the Studio Art Center International in Florence. This is not a cheesecake but it does look like one when served. The recipe Melissa sent had all the ingredients listed in grams so I have converted them to the closest relative measurement. The result after my conversions was delicious, although sweet with a subtle hint of lemon, so you may want to tweak the sugar. At first I thought there was an awful lot of milk but the Arborio rice soaks it up perfectly. Patience is key with this recipe. A gentle boil is best so you don't burn the milk or rice. Stir frequently so the rice doesn't stick. It took about 20 minutes for the rice to absorb all the liquid. I waited until the pan was warm to the touch, about another 25 minutes, before adding the eggs. You don't want the mixture so hot that it cooks the eggs. If you begin by soaking the raisins they will be plump by the time you are ready to add the eggs. Drain and dry them while you add the eggs. I used a 9-inch cake pan but it was so full that I put a foil-lined cookie sheet under it while it baked in case it overflowed. It didn't but the top got very puffy. As it sat and cooled a bit, it sank to the level of the cake pan. Run a butter knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the cake. It is best served warm.

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Torta di Riso

6 cups milk (whole is best)

cup sugar

½ teaspoon vanilla

Zest of 1 lemon

1 ¼ cups Arborio rice (no substitute)

cup butter, cut into pieces, plus more for greasing the pan

3 eggs

½ cup raisins, washed, soaked and dried (can be soaked in Vin Santo, a dessert wine, or orange liqueur, for more flavor)

cup candied orange rind, optional

Pinch of salt

Combine milk, sugar, vanilla, lemon zest and salt in a pot. Bring to a boil and add the rice. Cook, uncovered, stirring frequently to avoid the rice sticking to the pot. Cook until the rice has absorbed all the milk. When no liquid remains, remove from heat and add the butter.

Let the rice cool and then add the eggs, one at a time, stirring well after each addition. Mix in the raisins and candied orange peel, if using.

Grease a 9-inch cake pan with butter and pour in the mixture. Bake at 375 degrees for approximately 30 minutes. Serve warm.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Source: Melissa Myers, Treasure Island

Italian torta di riso (rice cake) looks like cheesecake but isn't 06/25/13 [Last modified: Monday, June 24, 2013 5:27pm]
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