Make Ahead

Cassata Siciliana Cake with Ricotta-Cream Cheese Filling and Chocolate Frosting

June  4, 2013
0 Ratings
  • Serves 8 to 10
Author Notes

This is one of the simplest version of a wonderful, most classic Sicilian cake, which requires just a little time and patience, and I promise, your patience will be rewarded. I recommend using really the freshest only whole milk ricotta, the best heavy cream and all other ingredients. You don’t eat a dessert like this decadent cake every day, so go for it and enjoy.

Inspired by “Cassata alla Siciliana” the iconic cake of Sicily, originating in Palermo and eventually becoming a Sicilian classic and also by one of the cake’s many variations: “Cassata Ice Cream”.

It is not necessary to chill and keep this cake in the freezer during the cooler part of the year; it stays perfectly fresh and firm in refrigerator. —Kukla

What You'll Need
  • Sponge cake
  • • 4 large eggs, separated
  • • 1 cup sugar divided + a large pinch of salt
  • • 3/4 cups cake flour
  • • Zest of 1 large lemon
  • • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Ricotta-cream cheese filling and Chocolate frosting
  • • 1 cup (8 oz.) fresh whole milk ricotta, well drained + 1/2 cup (4oz) softened cream cheese
  • • 1/2 cup heavy cream, chilled
  • • 1/4 cup superfine sugar
  • • 3 tablespoons Limoncello
  • • 1/3 cup finely chopped mixed candied fruit and citrus peel (I used dried cherries, 3 slices crystallized ginger, candied orange peel)
  • • 1/4 cup chopped slivered almonds
  • • 1-1/4 cups mini semisweet chocolate chips, divided
  • • 1 full teaspoon espresso or instant coffee dissolved in 1/4 cup boiling water
  • • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces and chilled
  1. Sponge cake
  2. To make the sponge cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, and place a rack in the middle of the oven. Cut parchment paper to fit an 8-by 8-inches square baking dish.
  3. Carefully separate eggs, into 2 mixing bowls. Add a pinch of salt and 1 teaspoon of lemon juice to whites and beat, using a stand mixer or the handheld mixer until soft picks form; slowly add 1/2 cup sugar; continue beating on medium speed for another 2 to 3 minutes, or until the whites are shiny and hold stiff peaks.
  4. Add the remaining 1/2 cup sugar, vanilla extract and lemon zest to yolks; beat until very thick and light yellow in color. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold about one third of the whipped whites into the yolk mixture to lighten it. Then gently fold in the remaining egg whites. Sift the flour and salt together over the top of the mixture and fold in gently until the flour is completely incorporated.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish; carefully spread the batter evenly in the pan so that the cake is the same thickness throughout. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 30 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes out dry. Cool for a few minutes, remove from pan and remove parchment paper. Cool completely.
  1. Ricotta-cream cheese filling and Chocolate frosting
  2. Combine Ricotta, cream cheese, heavy cream, sugar and Limoncello in a medium bowl; beat using a stand mixer or the handheld mixer for about 3- 4 minutes until light and fluffy. Fold in candied fruit, 1/4 cup chopped almonds and 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips until well combined; set aside.
  3. Using sharp serrated knife cut the cooled sponge cake in half horizontally. Cut each half again horizontally. (I am sure that your cutting will be more precise then mine). Place top of the cake, top-side-down, on a rectangular serving platter. Spread one-third of the Ricotta mixture evenly over the bottom cake layer.
  4. Repeat the same process two more times. Top with remaining cake layer; press lightly to compact layers. Cover with plastic wrap; transfer to the freezer and chill at least for 2 hours.
  5. Meanwhile, heat the remaining cup of chocolate chips and coffee in top of double boiler over barely simmering, water. Stir constantly until chocolate is melted. Add butter pieces, one by one, stirring constantly, until all butter is added and melted.
  6. Remove from heat; cool to spreading consistency, about 2 hours. Spread top and sides of cake with chocolate frosting. Sprinkle with chopped almonds (if desired). Return the cake to the freezer. Let the cake thaw at room temperature before serving for about 20 minutes.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • AntoniaJames
  • inpatskitchen
  • lapadia
  • Kukla

7 Reviews

AntoniaJames June 5, 2013
Just love this! Especially the use of the limoncello. I often make a cassata at Christmastime, as it was one of my mother's favorite Italian dessert recipes and she loved serving it at her holiday open houses. (I even made one or two for her, when I was her party sous chef as a girl.) What a great idea to serve it cold! I love how you mix some cream cheese in with the ricotta, too. Now that's brilliant. Saving this one for a summer party! ;o)
Kukla June 5, 2013
Thanks a lot AJ!!! I used Limoncello to match the flavor of lemon zest in the sponge cake and added cream cheese to the ricotta to give the filling more sturdiness. Next time I will follow your smart advice, which you give in the Diplomat and make this cake with a pound cake or an Angel Food cake from a good bakery. Thanks again AJ! Love receiving your always beautiful comments!
inpatskitchen June 4, 2013
I love Cassata cake!! Absolutely beautiful!!
Kukla June 4, 2013
Thank you Pat!
lapadia June 4, 2013
Beautiful, Kukla. Check the sponge cake ingredients, doesn't show how many eggs and check the cups of flour and sugar, too. Same with the ricotta ingredients, looks like the amounts dropped off (?).
Kukla June 4, 2013
I don’t know why you can’t see the ingredient amounts? I’ll email the editors to check up on this problem. Sorry for the inconvenience and thank you for your nice comment Linda!
sonja R. August 17, 2013
Hello Kukla, I just found this site and absolutely love it. Would like to make your Cassata but cannot see the amounts listed for the ingredients. This also was with another recipe I seen by you. Hope the issue gets worked out quickly. Sonja :)