Cassata: Cassata or Cassata siciliana is a traditional sweet from the area of Palermo, Sicily, Italy. Cassata may also refer to a Neapolitan ice cream containing candied or dried fruit and nuts. Cassata consists of round sponge cake moistened with fruit juices or liqueur and layered with ricotta cheese, candied peel, and a chocolate or vanilla filling similar to cannoli cream. It is covered with a shell of marzipan, pink and green pastel colored icing, and decorative designs. The cassata is topped with candied fruit depicting cherries and slices of citrus fruit characteristic of Sicily.
- 500 gms vanilla sponge (store bought or homemade)
- 500 ml water
- 110 gms white sugar
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp orange blossoms water
- 150 gms candied fruit for decorating such as glace orange, cherries, figs, candied ‘cedro’ or citron sliced finely with a peeler for decorating
- 1 kg firm fresh ricotta, drained well
- 55 gms caster sugar
- 80 gms icing sugar
- 60 gms candied orange peel or glace orange, finely chopped
- 100 gms dark chocolate, chopped
Note: If you don’t like orange peel, use 1 tbsp orange zest and add in some glace or candied fruits, chopped.
- 480 gms icing sugar
- 1 tbsp milk
- Slice the sponge into three layers of 1 cm thick slices.
- Grease and line a 23.5cm spring form cake tin.
- Cut out two circles the size of the base of the tin from the sponge slices, using the cake tin as a guide.
- Use 1 circle of sponge as the base of cake tin.
- Cut the other slices of sponge into strips of 6cm wide.
- Cover the sides of the cake tin with sponge strips, so that you almost completely line the tin with sponge.
- In a small heavy based saucepan, over a moderate temperature, dissolve the sugar, orange blossoms water, lemon juice and water.
- Bring to the boil.
- Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes or until it resembles a light syrup.
- Remove the syrup from heat.
- Leave the syrup to cool for about 15 minutes.
- Reserve a small amount of syrup for the top of the cake.
- Using a pastry brush and syrup, moisten the sponge on the base and sides of the tin.
- Combine the ricotta with the caster sugar, icing sugar and candied orange peel or glace orange, with the help of a fork.
- Fold in the chopped chocolate.
- Spoon the ricotta filling into the sponge and smoothen over the top.
- Brush the remaining layer of sponge with the syrup.
- Lay the sponge, syrup-side down, onto the ricotta.
- Press the sponge down gently.
- Place a piece of baking paper on top.
- Place a plate over the top and weigh down the sponge with tins or a heavy weight.
- Place the entire cake tin, along with the heavy weights in the fridge for several hours or overnight.
- Mix the icing sugar into a bowl with milk.
- Stir well until a smooth and thick white paste or glaze forms.
- The icing glaze should be slightly thick and very smooth.
- Remove the cake tin from the fridge.
- Invert the cake onto a large plate.
- Pour the icing glaze over the cake, spreading it with a wet spatula to glaze the top and sides.
- Leave to set for 1 hour in the fridge.
- Cassata is ready to be decorated.
- Decorate the cassata with the extra candied fruit, as desired.
- Cassata is ready to be served.
Note: The cassata is best eaten within 2 days.
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