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archive for November 14th, 2012

you oughta try the cassata

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

Recipe: chocolate cassata cake

It’s cake season. This means that it is cool enough for me to want to turn my oven on. It means that it is cool enough that I am willing to work with chocolate. Even so, making a cake can fill me with dread and be downright frustrating at times – mostly because of elevation issues. I’m always keen to try new recipes, but hate the idea of wasting time, energy, money, and good wholesome ingredients on cakes that fail. A recipe tester, I am not. But this cake has been bouncing in my head since October.


let’s make some candied orange and lemon peels (lemons, orange, sugar)

slice the peel off

combine sugar and water to make a syrup

simmered peels (2 hours)



I have never had an authentic Italian cassata before. The only reason I knew anything about cassata was that I had made an adaptation from Marcel Desaulnier’s Death by Chocolate which involves yellow spongecake soaked in rum and layered with a shaved chocolate pastry cream rather than the traditional ricotta cheese filling. I read that Italian cassatas are commonly served around Easter. But when I had lunch at Pizzeria Locale last month, I saw cassata on the dessert menu and impulsively ordered it.

chocolate chiffon cake: oil, eggs, confectioners sugar, milk, flour, cocoa, sugar, almond extract

mix wet ingredients into dry ingredients (except egg whites and granulated sugar)

folding whipped egg whites into the chocolate batter

pour the batter in buttered pans lined with parchment paper



What arrived was a slice of chocolate cassata: chocolate spongecake with a creamy, almost buttery ricotta filling studded with pistachios, and all topped with a nice dark chocolate glaze. Brilliant. I had to attempt this at home – it was so lovely! I did a little research and decided to make a layer cake… because I am partial to layers. There would be four components: chocolate spongecake, ricotta cheese filling with candied orange peel, chopped pistachios, and shaved chocolate, a boozy simple syrup to soak the cake layers, and a dark chocolate glaze.

ricotta cheese, vanilla extract, grated chocolate, chopped candied citrus peel, pistachios, cinnamon, powdered sugar

adding vanilla

stirring in the pistachios, candied peels, and chocolate



**Jump for more butter**