Did you come in hot at the beginning of quarantine, baking your little heart out with sourdough and banana bread and ambitious pastry projects? Have you since lost that baking mojo as the pandemic presses on longer than anyone ever imagined?
Us too. But Melissa Weller’s ricotta chocolate chip pound cake may be enticing enough to pull you out of your baking retirement and back into the game. The loaf, the NYC-based baker says, seems easy to put together but takes a bit of finesse. “Food & Wine magazine called it ‘a feat of physics,’ because the chocolate chips don’t sink in the cake, they are dispersed throughout, which is something I worked very hard to achieve,” says Weller. The key is chopping the chips: “I chop the chocolate very finely before folding the chips into the batter. The smaller, lighter chips float in the batter rather than sinking to the bottom of the pan.”
Another key? Ensuring the thick cake is baked all the way through. Says Weller, “Where the toothpick test is sufficient for most cakes — and you can certainly use that for this cake — to make sure it is baked properly, I check the internal temperature of the cake with a digital thermometer, a bread baker’s trick that I apply to this cake.”
The master baker demonstrated on Eater’s Instagram how to make this simple cake, which shows up in her forthcoming cookbook, A Good Bake — and in the meantime, you can find the recipe below.
Ricotta Chocolate Chip Pound Cake
1 1⁄4 cups (220 grams) semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 2⁄3 cups (200 grams) all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon (15 grams) baking powder
1 2⁄3 cups (367 grams) whole milk ricotta
12 tablespoons (1½ sticks, or 170 grams) unsalted butter, cubed, softened
1 ½ cups (300 grams) granulated sugar
3 (150 grams) large eggs
1 tablespoon (15 grams) pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon (6 grams) fine sea salt
Nonstick cooking spray
Start by arranging the oven racks so one is in the center position and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut a piece of parchment paper to 8- by 12-inches. Spray the bottom and the sides of a 9- by 4-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray. Line the pan with the parchment so it covers the bottom as well as goes up the longer sides of the pan.
Chop the chocolate chips until they are about one-third their original size. Pass them through a fine mesh strainer to strain out the chocolate dust; discard the dust (or reserve it to make hot chocolate) and set the chocolate chips aside.
To make the batter, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl and set aside.
Using a food processor fitted with the S-shape blade, whip the ricotta until creamy and smooth, about 1 minute. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer set with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and sugar and beat on medium speed for 2 to 3 minutes, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula once or twice. The mixture should be light and fluffy. Working one at a time, add the eggs, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl between additions. Add the vanilla extract and mix it in, and scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Add the ricotta and mix on medium-low until it is blended in; note that the mixture will look “broken,” not homogenous. Turn off the mixer, scrape down the bowl, and add the dry ingredients. Mix on low speed until only traces of flour remain visible. Turn off the mixer and take the mixer bowl off the stand. Add the chocolate chips and fold them in with a rubber spatula until they are evenly dispersed and no flour is visible, making sure to scrape the very bottom of the bowl.
Scoop the batter into the prepared pan and use a small offset spatula to smooth and level out the top. Place the cake on the center rack of the oven to bake for 60 to 70 minutes, until a digital thermometer registers 200 degrees when inserted into the center. Remove the cake from the oven and place the pan on a cooling rack to cool for 15 minutes. Remove the cake from the pan by lifting up on the ends of parchment paper and return to the rack to cool completely. Enjoy with or without a cup of coffee.