Newsletter 31: Ricotta & Irkotta




Ricotta and Irkotta – same thing or 2 different ingredients?

There is a page on facebook named “Jien irkotta ngħid, mhux ricotta, għax bil-Malti nitkellem. U int?”.  But are both really just the same word in a different language or are they a different ingredient altogether?  The Italian ricotta, is an Italian dairy product made from the whey left over from the production of cheese.  It has a mild, fresh lactic flavor and is low in fat.  It is very popular in Italy - especially in the South of the country and in Sicily, where cannoli are filled with ricotta that has been sweetened with sugar and candied fruit. Ricotta is also used in the Sicilian cassata, tha lasagna, ravioli and manicotti. The Maltese irkotta is a different story.  Whereas Italian ricotta is made from the left over whey – and is therefore a by-product, the irkotta is produced by heating fresh milk in its entirety and adding calcium chloride to form the curd.  Irkotta is a favourite cheese locally, and is used in a number of traditional foods such as pastizzi, qassatat, ravjul, lasagna and cannelloni. It also lends itself well to being used in sweets in the same way as the Italian ricotta such as kannoli tal-irkotta and Cassata Siciliana.  Because of their similar flavor and texture, they can be used interchangeably in recipes.  When a recipe calls for ricotta, irkotta can easily be substituted and vice versa.


Sweet Ricotta and Almond Tart



400g sweet shortcrust pastry

200g margarine

150g sugar

200g ground almonds

100g candied peel

75g almond chopped

60g candied cherries cut in quarters

3 Eggs

Grated rind of 1 lemon

1 egg beaten

120ml cream

400g ricotta


Put margarine and sugar into a mixing bowl and beat well to a creamy consistency.

Add 3 eggs, grated rind of a lemon and beat again, add ground almonds, candied peel, chopped almonds and candied cherries.  Mix the cream and ricotta together to a light texture.  Add to the almond mixture and mix smoothly.

Grease a round baking tin and line with pastry.  Fill this with the ricotta mixture smooth in the top.

With the remaining pieces of pastry cut long thin strips, egg wash the edge of the pastry of the baking tin.

Arrange the strips of pastry into a nest. Egg wash again and bake in a moderate oven 190 Gas Mark 4-5



Torta tal-Irkotta Ħelwa u l-Lewż



400g ghagina helwa

200g margarina

150g zokkor

200g intrita

100g konfettura

75g lewz imfarrak

60g cirasa mqatta’

3 bajdiet

Qoxra mahkuka ta’ lumija

bajda mhabbta

120ml krema

400g irkotta


Poggi l-margarina u z-zokkor go bieqja u habbat sew sakemm it-tahlita tigi konsistenza ta krema.

Zid it-tlett bajdiet u l-qoxra tal-lumija u erga habbat sew.  Zid l-intrita, il-konfettura, il-lewz imfarrak u c-cirasa mqatta’.  Hawwad il-krema u l-irkotta flimkien sakemm it-tahlita tkun hafifa u kremuza.  Zid mat-tahlita ta’ lewz u hawwad.

Iksi forma tonda bl-ghagina. Imliha bit-tahlita tal-irkotta.

Bl-ghagina li jibqa aghmel strixxi twal.  Idlek id-dawra tal-ghagina bil-bajda.

Irranga l-istrixxi fil-wicc, erga’ idlek bil-bajda u sajjar f’forn medju 190C,  Gass 4-5