The Arabs brought this dessert to Sicily and the name “cassata” is said to come from the Arabic meaning bowl. The dessert was adapted in the sixteenth century by nuns, who were fabulous pastry cooks, from the many convents on the island.
I visited Sicily a couple of years ago with my sister Estella on a press trip and ended up in a little town 1 hours drive from Palermo called Cefalù. We met some amazing people and ate wonderful food. The Cassata Siciliana is one of the islands famous desserts alongside cannoli. Estella and I consumed many versions on our whirlwind tour.
I am heading back to Sicily and Cefalù with Steve in July and my taste buds are already reminiscing over the wonderful culinary delights that Sicily is renowned for. Check out my post “A Few Days in Cefalù” by clicking the link here and if you want to know more about the cuisine in the area and cassata read my post on “Cortile Pepe” here.
Now, this recipe is a time consuming one but well worth it. I think to present this dessert at a special family celebration like I did at Easter or a birthday shows love and care. I can’t think of anything better than gathering friends and family over delicious home prepared food.
If you are trying to source the amazingly beautiful glacé fruits then check out Buy Wholefoods online. They have a wonderful selection on offer.
- 1 x 26cm/10.5 inch sponge cake homemade or shop bought
- 120g glacé fruit, chopped
- 4 tablespoons white rum
- 1kg ricotta cheese
- 200g icing sugar
- 120g dark chocolate
- 50g shelled unsalted pistachio nuts, finely chopped
- 150g shelled almonds, finely chopped
- 50g icing sugar, plus extra for dusting
- 2 tablespoons white rum
- 50g caster sugar
- 50ml white rum
- 2 tablespoons apricot jam
- 450g ready made fondant icing
- Glacé fruits to decorate such as angelica, cherries and orange peel
- Firstly make the filling. Put the chopped glacé fruit in a bowl and add the rum and let it soak for 20 minutes. Meanwhile beat the ricotta cheese with the icing sugar in a bowl until smooth. Drain the glacé fruit and stir into the ricotta mixture and add the chopped chocolate. Chill in the fridge for 12 hours or overnight.
- Make the pistachio paste. Put the pistachios, almonds, sugar and rum into the blender and blend into a paste.
- Make the rum syrup. Pour 200ml of water into a shallow pan, add the sugar and heat gently until completely dissolved. Bring to the boil and boil without stirring for a couple of minutes. Cool slightly and add the rum.
- Line a 26cm/10.5 inch cake tin with cling film. Cut the sponge into slices. Lay the sponge side by side on the bottom of the tin. Drizzle with half the rum syrup. Cover with the ricotta filling and top with remaining sponge slices. Drizzle with the remaining syrup. Wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for 24 hours.
- Remove the cassata from the fridge. Throw away the cling film and turn out onto a serving plate. Heat the jam with 1 tablespoon of water and brush over the cassata. Cover with the rolled, ready made fondant icing.
- Roll out the pistachio paste on a surface dusted with icing sugar. Stamp out shapes (diamonds are traditional) with a biscuit cutter or a knife. Brush with water and stick in the outside of the cassata. Decorate the top with glacé fruits and store in the fridge until ready to serve.
Disclaimer; I was kindly sent some ingredients to make my Sicilian Cassata by Buy Wholefoods Online. I was not paid for this post and all views are my own as always.