Italian Ricotta Cassata Cake Recipe

A close-up of a cassata cake
Edsel L/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0
  • 80 mins
  • Prep: 45 mins,
  • Cook: 35 mins
  • Yield: 12 servings (serves 12)

Instead of the usual choice of a Red Velvet Cake for his birthday, my husband chose a Cassata Cake this year. The filling on this Cassata Cake reminds me of the filling in a Cannoli, another tasty Italian dessert. The filling is made with whole-milk ricotta​ and mini chocolate chips. The ricotta helps to cut the sweetness of the cake.

What You'll Need

  • For the Filling:
  • 30 ounces ricotta (whole-milk)
  • 2-1/4 cups powdered sugar (sifted)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon (ground)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 6 ounces chocolate chips (semi-sweet mini)
  • 2 lemons (zest of)
  • For the Cake:
  • 2 cake layers (white, yellow or your favorite flavor)
  • 1/2 cup rum (or Marsala)
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • For the Frosting:
  • 2 cups whipping cream (heavy)
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar (sifted)
  • 1 tablespoon rum (or Marsala)
  • Optional: chocolate chips (additional mini)
  • Optional: strawberries
  • Optional: chocolate shavings
  • Optional: lemon zest (additional)
  • Optional: maraschino cherries

How to Make It


In a large bowl, combine the ricotta, powdered sugar, cinnamon and vanilla with an electric mixer. Once the ricotta mixture is as smooth as possible (the ricotta will still cause it to have a few lumps), hand stir in the chocolate chips and the lemon zest. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least as long as it takes to bake the cake. This step could be done up to a day in advance if desired.

Make your favorite flavored 2-layer cake. Once the cake layers are completely cool, either use a long serrated knife or dental floss to slice them horizontally into 2 layers, and this should give you a total of 4 layers. In a small bowl, mix the rum (or Marsala) with the water. Use a pastry brush to brush the top of the cake layers with the liquor mixture. Give it a minute or so to absorb the alcohol before building the cake.

Assembling the Italian Cassata Cream Cake:
Place a single cake layer in the bottom of a cheesecake (9-inch springform) pan and spread with 1/3 of filling mixture. Repeat with the other 3 layers. Wrap the unfrosted cake in plastic and refrigerate it for at least 4 hours. Refrigerating the cake overnight is best.

In four hours or the next day, make the whipped cream frosting. Next, unwrap the cake and carefully move it to a serving plate using two strong spatulas. Frost the cake top and then the sides with the whipped cream mixture. Decorate with optional chocolate shavings or mini chocolate chips. Maraschino cherries around the top of the cake could look pretty, too.

The next day, whip the cream with the powdered sugar and liquor. Beat long enough that firm peaks are formed. Store the whipped cream in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
Calories 360
Total Fat 15 g
Saturated Fat 10 g
Unsaturated Fat 4 g
Cholesterol 30 mg
Sodium 397 mg
Carbohydrates 40 g
Dietary Fiber 2 g
Protein 11 g
(The nutrition information on our recipes is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. Individual results may vary.)