Saturday, December 1, 2012

Sicilian Cassatta

Cassatta decorated with a whimsical whipped cream decoration

It is a cake as beautiful as Italy, (and the stunning cookbook I found it in!) without a lot of hassle. 
Sicily is portrayed as an island where Jews, Arabs, and Christians were able to live "side by side in peace and toleration", and this cake is a symbol of it. Monastery nuns made it for Easter, and Jews made it for Purim. Some believe that it also has muslim roots, saying that cassata comes from an arab word that means deep bowl. Others claim that the word comes from latin and means cheese, because the cake is filled with ricotta, according to the traditional recipe. 
Nowadays, it is suitable for Christmas or birthdays, too, and is often served with an ice cream filling in restaurants. So this cake is for celebrating this blog's first birthday! 

Recipe adapted from Italy the Beautiful Cookbook

1/2 cup granulated superfine sugar
1 tablespoon water
1 pound ricotta
3 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
6 ounces candied fruit
2 ounces blanched pistachio nuts
8 ounces sponge or pound cake
1 cup amaretto or sweet dessert wine

Dissolve sugar in water in pan by heating it. Strain the ricotta, to make it smoother, and mix it with the sugar water, chocolate, candied fruit, and pistachios. Cut the sponge cake into 1 cm slices, then cut them into strips. Soak them fully in the amaretto liqueur and line a 7-inch bowl or mold with them:

Cover them with the ricotta mixture; then top with another 1-cm layer of sponge cake.
Refrigerate for several hours, then unmold onto a platter.
Decorate or serve with whipped cream.

Cassatta next to a lily made out of sugar, and an alabaster  jar  from Pisa

Medici, Lorenza. 1996. Italy the Beautiful Cookbook. Harper Collins.

No comments: