One would think growing up in an Italian-American family that the cassata cake would of graced our dessert table as often as the dear cannoli, but it did not. I can’t recall one time ever eating it and wasn’t even sure what it was…a sad tale to tell that’s entirely true.
I know now that it is typically made with a sponge cake, filled with sweetened ricotta cheese and then covered in a glaze. It can have all kinds of accouterments including marzipan, candied or dried fruit and nuts; and may be flavored with liqueur, espresso, cinnamon or citrus.
With all of this, one could make a 100 of them, every single one different! Just think of all the glorious possibilities!
This one is flavored with fresh orange and semi-sweet chocolate.
While it isn’t a sponge cake — it is eggy and dense, perfect for soaking up the orange-infused simple syrup that is brushed over top. You can use orange liqueur or fresh squeezed orange juice.
I find it unique because not only is it baked in a loaf pan but it’s cut into three layers so the sweet ricotta filling can be inserted inside. Not once, but twice. Be still my heart. The cake is sturdy and holds up well to being cut and handled.
The filling is reminiscent of cannoli cream with it’s flavorings of orange zest and mini chocolate chips. Rather than glazing the top, I used a fresh whip cream frosting and garnished it with grated chocolate. The cake crumb is so heavy that it really benefits from the whip cream.
I’m happy to say I adore cassata cake! What’s not to love? With it’s aromatic notes of orange and chocolate peeking through the layers of soft, luscious filling amidst the folds of fluffy whip cream and towering layers of buttery cake, this holds every promise of becoming a new favorite. Of mine and yours!
- Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour an 8×4 or 10×5 inch loaf pan. Add the ricotta for the filling to a wire strainer over a bowl to drain off some of the liquid. Store in refrigerator.
- In a large mixing bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add the butter and beat on low speed until well blended. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each. Stir in milk and vanilla, beat on medium until smooth. Batter will be thick.
- Add batter to prepared pan and bake 50-55 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean from center with a few moist crumbs attached. Cool in pan on wire rack 10-15 minutes then turn out onto wire rack and cool completely.
- In a small saucepan whisk sugar and water together, cook over medium heat, stirring, until sugar dissolves. Stir in orange liqueur or juice. Remove from heat and set aside.
- To make the filling whisk ricotta, sugar, zest and chocolate together. Keep refrigerated until needed.
- In a large mixing bowl add heavy cream, whisk on medium until it begins to thicken, add cream of tartar and confectioners sugar. Beat on medium speed until stiff peaks form. Refrigerate until needed.
- To assemble the cake carefully slice it with a long, serrated knife into 3 equal layers. Set bottom layer on dish and brush or sprinkle the simple syrup over top. Add 1/2 of the ricotta filling and spread evenly. Set the next layer down and repeat. Brush bottom of top layer with syrup and set on top.
- Frost with whip cream and sprinkle chocolate garnish over top. Keep refrigerated, cut into slices for serving.
Adapted from Bev Shaffer