|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 40g||51%|
|Saturated Fat 21g||107%|
|Total Carbohydrate 81g||30%|
|Dietary Fiber 2g||8%|
|Total Sugars 63g|
|Vitamin C 4mg||20%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|
Traditional cassata cake, as it's made in Italy, is nothing like the version found in the United States. Although both are delicious, the original Sicilian cake has ingredients like marzipan on the outside and candied fruit in the filling. Both versions feature a delicious sponge cake moistened with liqueur, or juice, and a rich and creamy ricotta-and-chocolate filling, similar to that used in cannoli. Sweet but not over the top, the American version of this wonderful cake is also decorated with strawberries, which give some freshness and tang to the sweet cake.
Cassata's origin is attributed to the Arabic rule in Sicily starting in the 10th century, but theories conflict. Some say its name derives from the Arabic word qas’at—a cake pan—and others from the Latin term for cheese, caseus. But what could actually have happened is that Arabs brought sugar-producing mills to the south of Italy and this, combined with local baking traditions and a love for dairy, gave origin to a sugary cake filled with cheese. Regardless of the origin of the name or its inventor, cassata is a celebratory cake associated with Easter, and bakeries in Italian neighborhoods around the world all have a different take on it.
Our cassata has the ricotta filling of the classic Italian cake but also honors the American taste for fresh fruit on sweet cakes. Before you begin, be mindful that you need two 2-layer cakes—white or yellow—and that the finished cake needs at least four hours in the fridge to set. For best results, we recommend assembling the unfrosted cake the day before your event and allowing it to chill overnight.
"This recipe is like cannoli in a cake! I love this for a festive occasion and thought the
ricotta filling held up and complimented the cake really well. If you enjoy the
flavor of cannoli, this cake will be a new favorite for you." - Tracy Wilk
For the Filling:
30 ounces whole milk ricotta
2 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 ounces semisweet mini chocolate chips
2 tablespoons lemon zest, from 2 lemons, zested
For the Cake:
2 white or yellow cakes, 4 layers total
1/2 cup rum, or Marsala wine
2 tablespoons water
For the Frosting:
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/3 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon rum, or Marsala wine
6 small whole strawberries
6 maraschino cherries
1/4 pound semisweet chocolate, shaved
Steps to Make It
Make the Filling
Gather the ingredients.
In a large bowl, combine the ricotta, powdered sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla with an electric mixer or by hand until you have as smooth and homogenous a mixture as possible—the ricotta will still cause it to have a few lumps.
Once the ricotta mixture is well incorporated, hand stir in the chocolate chips and the lemon zest.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate it at least for as long as it takes you to bake and cool the cake. The filling could be made a day in advance if desired.
Assemble the Cake
Gather the ingredients.
Once your cakes of choice are completely cool, either use a long serrated knife or sturdy thread to slice them horizontally into 2 layers. Reserve the 4 layers.
In a small bowl, mix the rum with the water.
Use a pastry brush to brush the outside part of the cake layers with the liquor mixture. Give each layer a minute or two to absorb the alcohol before assembling the cake.
Place a single layer of cake in the bottom of a 9-inch cheesecake springform pan. Spread 1/3 of the chilled filling mixture on top. Repeat with a second layer of cake and another 1/3 of the mixture and spread the final 1/3 of the mixture on top of the third layer of cake.
Cover the assembled cake with the fourth layer of cake, brown part up. Wrap the unfrosted cake in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 4 hours.
Make the Frosting and Decorate the Cake
Once you're ready to assemble, whip the cream with powdered sugar and rum. Beat until you have firm peaks. If not using right away, store the whipped cream in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Unwrap the cake and carefully move it to a serving plate. Frost the cake top and then the sides with the whipped cream mixture.
Alternate the strawberries with the cherries on the outer edge of the cake. Place the chocolate shavings in the center. If not slicing right away, place the cake back in the fridge.
Serve and enjoy
- Because ricotta is such a prominent part of this cake, make sure to buy a flavorful brand. BelGioioso, Calabro, and Bellwether Farms are all good options.
- For the best flavor, assemble the cake (but do not frost it), tightly cover it, and refrigerate it the day before serving. Frost the cake right before serving.
- Any classic yellow or white cake will make good layers for cassata cake. Using chocolate cake layers will give you a completely different, but very delicious, experience.
- While cherries and strawberries are classic, you can use many different seasonal fruits for garnish. Tart berries are especially delicious, but halved fresh figs are a good option as well.