The Sicilian cassata is a rich and colorful dessert: it takes some time, but the end result is a masterpiece of Italian cuisine!
|For the filling|
|Powdered sugar/Vanilla powdered sugar||280 Gram|
|Chocolate chips||100 Gram|
|Ricotta cheese||5 Cup (80 tbs)|
|Candied orange peel||50 Gram|
|For the sponge cake|
|For the fondant icing|
|Powdered sugar||350 Gram|
|Pistachio nuts/Green food coloring||20 Gram|
|Candied fruit||250 Gram|
|For the royal icing|
|Egg white||1 Medium|
|Powdered sugar||150 Gram|
|For the soaking syrup|
|Lemon zest||1 Medium|
|Granulated sugar||50 Gram|
The day before serving the cassata, you can make the sponge cake.
1. The day before serving the cassata, you can make the sponge cake. Start by preheating the oven to 350F
2. Separate the egg whites and the yolks, In a large mixing bowl add egg yolks, sugar divided in part, and a pinch of salt, blend for at least 10 to 15 minutes until the mixture is pale, creamy, and doubled in size.
3. In another bowl mix the egg whites and the other part of sugar and blend until firm but not stiff.
4. Gently fold both the mixture together and add the flour. Using a spatula fold all the ingredients very delicately.
5. The batter for our sponge cake is ready. Pour it into a rectangular baking tray 10” wide and 14”inch long, buttered and floured cake pan. Once the batter is in the cake pan, bake for about 40 minutes in the preheated oven.
6. Still the day before, you can roughly mix the ricotta cheese with the powdered sugar and let it rest in the fridge overnight, covered with cling film
7. Now place the ricotta mixture in a fine strainer and press it down with a spatula, to remove any lump. After it's been strained, repeat this step once more... to make it as smooth as possible. And now we can add the dark chocolate chips to this amazing ricotta filling, mix together and keep in the fridge until it's time to use it.
8. Take a traditional cassata pan it's a pan with flared sides, a slightly raised bottom and measures 12 inches (30 cm) at its widest diameter. Slice the sponge cake horizontally to get a -inch (1 cm) thick layer, then cut it into strips, about 2 1/3 inches (6 cm) wide, to line the sides of the pan. Then cut the strips into trapezoids, because the pan has flared sides, so you don't have to make rectangles but a trapezoidal shape with one side shorter than the opposite side. If some pieces are too thick, slice them thinner with a knife.
9. Cut the remaining sponge cake into 2 thinner layers, to form the bottom and top layer of the cake, a small one and a large one. To make the small circular base, just press the pan into the sponge cake and cut it out.
10. Now take the green marzipan and cut into shapes the same size as before, at least 2 1/3 inches (6 cm) tall.
11. Sprinkle the work surface with powdered sugar, roll it out to a thickness of inch (1 cm) and cut into trapezoids.
12. Sprinkle the pan with powdered sugar and line the sides with alternate trapezoids if you place a piece of sponge cake with the long side up, the following piece of marzipan will be placed with the long side down.
13. Lay the sponge cake over the marzipan so that no space is left between them.
14. Now line the bottom with the circle of sponge cake, pale side facing down the other pieces of sponge cake face in the same direction. Press it down to adhere, then even out the sides.
15. Make sugar syrup by dissolving the sugar in water, adding some lemon or orange zest and finally a shot of liqueur. Soak the sponge cake with the syrup.
16. Fill the pan with the chocolate chip ricotta filling and spread it evenly. Cover the filling with the remaining sponge cake, moisten with the syrup and let it rest in the fridge for at least a couple of hours, or even overnight.
17. After few hours turn the cassata over. To do that, cover mould with a plate and invert. Reverse the cassata and keep it aside.
18. To make the icing -In a small saucepan, combine the sugar with just enough water to get a thick, white mixture this will be the fondant icing to cover the cassata. As soon as it comes to a simmering point, remove from the heat and pour it over the cake.
19. Spread it out work quickly because it hardens fast, and you don't want the layer to be too thick do the same on the sides.
20. The candied fruit is a must for topping the cassata it's very colorful, so you can get creative and decorate to taste. The most distinctive ingredient to garnish the cassata is candied pumpkin, called zuccata that you can cut into strips, fold and arrange on top in a flower pattern.
21. As a finishing touch, you can further embellish it with royal icing, made by beating an egg white until stiff and adding the powdered sugar a little at a time place in a pastry bag and decorate as you like.
22. Serve the cassata whole and slice into serving portions at the table.
You can make the green marzipan by kneading 1 tablespoon (20 g) of pistachio paste into the almond paste if you can't find pistachio paste, you can use green food coloring).
Traditional cassata pan, it's a pan with flared sides, a slightly raised bottom and measures 12 inches (30 cm) at its widest diameter.