Queen of sicilian pastry making, probably Cassata‘s name comes from Arabic qas’at, “basin”, maybe for its round shape, or from Latin caseum, cheese because it’s full of ricotta cheese. Its history is as mysterious as the history of foreign domination in Sicily.

Here the recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1 glass of white Vermouth
  • 500 g of fresh ricotta
  • 350 g of sugar
  • 1 sponge
  • 1 sachet of vanilla
  • 70 g of dark chocolate, diced
  • 50 g of zuccata
  • 200 g of ground almonds
  • 200 g of sugar
  • green food colouring for cakes
  • 300 – 400 g of candied fruit
  • 100 ml of water
  • 250 g of caster sugar
  • orange flower water.

Method (for the almond marzipan): Mix the ground almonds with the water and the sugar, add the green colouring to colour the paste. Mix until well combined then knead until soft and compact. At this point roll with a rolling pin and cut into a rectangular shape to be used for the outer part of the cassata.

Method (for the ricotta cream): pass the ricotta through a sieve then add the sugar, the diced dark chocolate, 1 sachet of vanilla and the zuccata.

Method (for the icing): Dissolve the icing sugar in the water. Place on a low heat and add a little orange flower water. Allow to rest. Cut the sponge into 3 disc shapes. Pour one glass of water, sugar and one glass of Vermouth into a bowl. Place the discs in the bowl. Use one of the soaked disks soaked to make the outer part of the cassata. Line the mould with clingfilm and arrange the marzipan rectangles on the edge of the mould, alternating rectangles of marzipan with slices of sponge of the same size. Place one of the soaked sponge discs on the bottom of the mould and spread the ricotta cream on top. Repeat with the second and third sponge discs then allow to rest for about half an hour. Flip over the mould, use the clingfilm to remove the cake and cover with the icing you prepared earlier. At this point cover the cassata to be decorated with candied fruit. Place the cassata in the refrigerator and allow 2 hours before serving.

For those who do not like the sumptuous decorations and the very sweet taste of this dessert, garnished with icing and colorful candied fruits, there is an older, even original version. The baked cassata, mostly widespread in Palermo, is a shortcrust pastry and sponge cake dessert with a filling of ricotta, sugar and chocolate drops, which, precisely, should be cooked in the oven. We assure you that this version is as good as the best known recipe. Why don’t you try?…