Cassata: the recipe for this Italian dessert
Sicilian or Neapolitan cassata, here is a simple recipe step by step
Days ago, I had posted a poll: "the favourite Italian dessert by Foodtribers". Cassata was last, and as I did with Pasta alla Norma (which came last in the survey "the favourite italian pasta dish by Foodtribers"), I decided to publish the recipe. Because surely you will change your mind after tasting it!
The Cassata is an ancient cake, created in Sicily in the 11th century, after the Arabs had imported various products into the island: from pistachio to citrus fruits, from almond to sugar cane. Since then the cassata has evolved and diversified several times, and later its Neapolitan version was born. For this reason, there is no single way to prepare this dessert.
The Neapolitan cassata is a lighter Christmas cake than the classic Sicilian cassata. The differences are very few in reality. Basically, it is a delicious and tasty sweet made with sponge cake and ricotta enriched with chocolate chips and candied fruit.
I propose the Neapolitan version, lighter and more comfortable to prepare, but hey: there are several ways to make this variant too.
Let's start with the most problematic part: the sponge cake. Making a sponge cake is not easy, the risk of creating a sweet omelette is around the corner. So, don't feel guilty if you want to go to your trusted pastry chef and ask him to prepare it for you. You will have to ask him for a sponge cake disk which you will then cut horizontally to get three thinner disks, and fear passes.
But if you feel inspired, here are the instructions.
INGREDIENTS: 500 g of sheep's ricotta; 250 g of sugar; chocolate chips (to taste); 30 g about candied fruit to be cut into small pieces
For the filling, work the ricotta with the sugar and leave it to rest in the fridge for at least an hour. Mix the sweetened ricotta with chocolate chips and candied fruit. Cut the sponge cake into three discs, but before stuffing it with ricotta, you have to wet it.
We can proceed in two ways: or creating a syrup, heating 2 glasses of water, 3 tablespoons of sugar and the liqueur on the heat; or only by diluting two fingers of liquor with two fingers of water. Some use undiluted liqueur. It depends on your tastes.
Then stuff one disc after another, always remembering to wet it first.
We are almost done, coverage is missing.
Guess what? What? There are various ways of proceeding. Yes, I know, all this can be not very clear. Still, we are talking about a dessert born in the 11th century and which has several regional variations, so there have inevitably been changes over time.
Please do not take it as a problem, take it as an opportunity to choose the most accessible variant or the one that best suits your tastes.
1st variant: the simplest. It is just a matter of keeping aside some sweetened ricotta without candied fruit and chocolate chips and spreading it on top. Easy and fast.
2nd variant: the sugar glaze. Pour 200 g of icing sugar and half a glass of water into a saucepan, put the saucepan on the fire and raise the boil. The icing will be ready when taking a few with your fingers, and it starts spinning. Remove it from the heat and quickly pour it on the cake to spread it, working until it has become white and no longer transparent.
3rd variant: cheating. Go out and buy a packet of ready sugar glaze. (I think they sell them everywhere), and pretend you made it yourself.
We are almost done, the decorations are missing. Take the candied fruit and give vent to your imagination.
Remember: the cassata should be kept in the fridge! Enjoy your meal!
The Strega liquor and candied fruit
- You can prepare the sponge cake the day before: it will be easier to cut it.
- To wet the sponge cake you can choose the liqueur you prefer from Rum, Strega and Maraschino. I prefer the Strega.
- Those who prefer can add a little liqueur to the ricotta worked with sugar, to make it more aromatic.
- It would be better if you found whole candied fruit without chemical dyes.