I have written about making cassata many times and rewriting the recipe is not necessary so I will provide links at the bottom of this post.
I did take a few photos. The photos and a few notes tell the story.
Make or buy a sponge cake.
Slice the sponge and line the mould with the sponge cake. It helps to line the mould with some foil to ensure that the cassata can be inverted easily. You may also like to use a little apricot jam to stick the different parts of the sponge together. I did not have any apricot jam and I used marmalade… not too much, it should not taste bitter. Honey could be OK too.
Tub ricotta is not very good, both in taste and texture. Buy full cream ricotta from a good deli.
Beat the ricotta with some cream, castor sugar and good vanilla essence. The amount of cream you use will depend on the creaminess of your ricotta. I do not like my cassata sweet and may not add as much castor sugar as someone else would. Taste the mixture and see if it tastes to your liking, then add chopped pistachio nuts, citrus peel including some cedro.
Next some cinnamon powder and some chopped dark chocolate. Fold through.
Dampen the sponge cake with some liqueur, some use marsala, I like an orange based liqueur and mostly use Cointreau, but do not make it soggy. Most cooks dilute the liqueur with sugar and water. I do not – give me the full taste anytime.
Fill the ricotta cream into the mould lined with sponge cake.
Put a slice of the sponge cake on top as a lid. Dampen it with liqueur, cover it with foil and put a weight on top. Keep it in the fridge till ready to decorate. I like to make the cassata the day before I decorate it and eat it.
Marzipan. Make it the day before and keep it wrapped in foil or baking paper or whatever you use :
As you can see I use much more almond meal than icing sugar. Mix it with a little water and a little vanilla and knead it to bring it together. Like when baking dough, add more almond meal or icing sugar to make it the correct consistency.
Most cassate are coated with ‘glassa’ made of sugar and water. I find this sickly sweet and prefer the old fashion marzipan. Traditionally the more commonly decorated cassate include a pale green colour. This may have been because the green may have been made with pistachio meal and the white with almond meal. Some people do not like eating marzipan so do not be surprised if you find some guests struggling to eat it.
I made two lots. of marzipan. The green vegetable dye was far too intense., but i was not going to throw the ingredients away. next time i shall use a dropper.
Roll the marzipan out… rolling it between two pieces of greaseproof paper may help.
Ready to decorate.
I really enjoyed this part, however the way I decorated my cassata may not be like the cassate you are likely to see in Sicily. Most people buy cassate from pastry shops, they leave it to the experts. This is also the case for cannoli.
My cassata over all is definitely less sweet. I used every bit of the marzipan. I used toothpicks to keep the flowers in place.
Sicilian cassata coated with a shiny ‘glassa’ is the most common cassata. Usually glace fruit is used to decorate the top.
Ornate cassate: in noteworthy pasticcerie.
I decorate cassate as the mood takes me. Thesa are some cassate I have made in the past:
For greater details and recipes see: