Cassata siciliana

Along with ricotta cannoli, the cassata is the most famous and widely loved Sicilian dessert. The origins of this sweet date back to the Arab domination in Sicily. The Arabs were the ones who introduced sugar cane, lemon, citron, bitter orange, tangerines and almonds. Together with ricotta, which has been made in Sicily since prehistoric times, all of these ingredients were brought together to provide the foundation for cassata. Originally this dessert was nothing more than a roll of shortcrust pastry filled with sugar-sweetened ricotta that was baked in the oven. The Spanish later introduced chocolate and sponge cake. Finally, candied fruits were added during the Baroque period. Up until recently cassata was only prepared by the hands of expert Sicilian nuns and was reserved for the Easter season.


For the sponge cake::
  • 8 eggs
  • 240 g flour
  • 240 g sugar
For the filling and decoration::
  • 1 kg ricotta cheese
  • 350 g sugar
  • 100 g dark chocolate
  • 500 g assorted candied fruits
  • vanilla
  • Rosolio Liqueur
  • cinnamon
For the icing:
  • 100 g sugar


Prepare a traditional sponge cake. Pass the ricotta through a sieve a few times then blend with the sugar, previously dissolved in a bit of warm water, beating continuously. Add a pinch of cinnamon and vanilla, the chocolate broken into pieces and half of the candied fruit, chopped. Cut the sponge cake into slices, moisten the slices with a syrup prepared with water and liqueur and arrange in layers with the ricotta filling in a shallow and wide round pan lined with wax paper. After a few hours in the refrigerator, turn over onto a serving dish. Cover the cake with a layer of icing (prepared by mixing, over a low flame, the sugar with two tsp water until it turns white). Decorate with whole pieces of candied fruit and serve.