Monday, March 09, 2009

Cassata alla Siciliana

Cassata alla Siciliana
From Time Life Foods of the World Series – Cooking of Italy
Note: Patrick, who originally asked for the recipe created a fantastic sounding version using a combo of this and another Italian recipe:
“Cake was a real hit today !!!! Made it for a friend who was celebrating 10 years of sobriety.
( I used juice instead of booze...) I combined 2 recipies. Yours and an Italian one... it had 5 layers... cherries, peaches, dried blueberries, choc chips.... could NOT find dried currants so I used dried blueberries... Made my own pound cake.
Choc Frosting was a combo of the 2. One called for Coffee one for cherry syrup....I USED BOTH !!! Everyone loved it...”

Hands-on time: 15 minutes for filling; 30 minutes for frosting; 5 minutes for assembly
Refrigeration time: at least 2 hours for the first part (although I left the cake with filling overnight before the frosting; at least 8 more hours after frosting.

Serves 6-8 (depending on the size of the pound cake and your appetites)

A fresh pound cake about 9”long x 3”wide
1 lb/450g ricotta cheese
2 tbsp heavy cream
¼ cup sugar
3 tbsp Strega (I used Grand Marnier, but any orange flavored liqueur will do)
1 tbsp mixed candied fruit, coarsely chopped
2 oz/56g semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
Chocolate Frosting: (this was actually twice as much as I needed for the pound cake I had)
12 oz/340 g semi sweet chocolate, cut into small pieces (melts faster)
¾ cup strong black coffee, hot
½ lb/227g unsalted butter, cut into ½” pieces and thoroughly chilled

Cake and filling
1. With a sharp knife, slice the end crusts off the pound cake and level the top if it’s rounded. Cut the cake into horizontal slices about ½” thick. As you can see in the photo, I only got three layers, but you could make them thinner.

2. Rub the ricotta through a coarse sieve into a bowl with a wooden spoon and beat it with a hand-held electric mixer until smooth. Beating constantly, add the cream, sugar and liqueur. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the candied fruit and chocolate pieces.

3. Center the bottom slab of cake in the center of a serving plate and spread the top generously with ricotta filling. Carefully place the next layer of cake over top, keeping sides and ends even and spread more filling. Continue until all the cake slabs are reassembled and the filling used up. (Actually, I had lots left over and perhaps I’ll make some cannoli). End with a plain slice of cake on top. Gently press the loaf together to make it as compact as possible. It will be a bit wobbly, not to worry, chilling firms the loaf. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours until the filling is firm. (I left it overnight, loosely wrapped in plastic wrap.

1. In a medium saucepan over low heat, melt the chocolate with the hot coffee, constantly stirring until the chocolate has completely dissolved.

2. Remove the pan from the heat and beat in the chilled butter, one tiny piece at a time with an electric hand-held mixer. Continue beating until the chocolate mixture is smooth (took quite a while – at least 15 minutes, if not longer…or maybe it just felt like it. I wasn’t timing it).

3. Chill until it’s the right consistency for spreading (I left it in the fridge for 5-10 minutes). Too thick will just crumble the cake, too thin and it will just flop onto the plate.

4. Spread the frosting over the top and sided of the cake. You can decorate with a piping bag, I just did the basics this time. Chill until the chocolate is hard enough to cover with plastic wrap (about 30 minutes) and let it ripen in the fridge for at least 24 hours before serving.

Trust me, it is worth the wait!


Sean said...

How curious -- I've never seen it with chocolate. Our first time in Italy, visiting my family in Rome, my cousin flew in from Sicily our first day there, and brought back both cassata and cannoli. The cassata was snow-white with big gem-like slabs of candied citrus peels arranged on the top. So good, but so sweet!

Ruth Daniels said...

Sean, truthfully, this was the first and only cassata I've ever had, so I have nothing to compare it to.

I guess you'll have to make it and let me know how it stacks up.

Happy cook said...

WOw beautiful and delicious, i can imagine how great it would be to have slice from this delicious cake.

The Food Hunter said...

I love cassata. Yours looks wonderful.

Coffee and Vanilla said...


This cake looks impressive! :)
Wouldn't mind to have slice or two right now...

Enjoy your evening,

the Ingredient Finder said...

so glad I found this, I used to have the Time Life book and made this a number of times. I lost the book in a move long ago, so thank you. I am midway through and about to make the frosting. A perfect Christmas dessert.

Ruth Daniels said...

Glad you found it here... have a slice for me please!