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Cassata Alla Siciliana

This dessert may be prepared up to 1 day in advance. Cover and chill until the point of serving. It is eaten at Christmas, Easter and at weddings.

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500 g (1 lb) Madeira cake, cut into 1 cm ( inch) slices
4 tablespoons maraschino or kirsch liqueur
500 g (1 lb) fresh ricotta cheese, drained and sieved
150 ml ( pint) single cream
50 g (2 oz) sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
125 g (4 oz) dark dessert chocolate, finely chopped
250 g (8 oz) whole mixed crystallised fruits, finely chopped
25 g (1 oz) pistachio nuts, blanched, peeled and chopped
teaspoon orange-flower water
Icing sugar, sifted, for dusting


Serves: 8


1. Line the base and sides of a 1.8 litre (3 pint) charlotte mould or 18 cm (7 inch) deep cake tin with nonstick baking paper.

2. Use three-quarters of the cake slices to line the base and sides of the container, cutting and trimming them to a triangular shape to fit the mould when placed in a circle. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the liqueur over the cake.

3. Whip the ricotta cheese until it is creamy then beat in the cream, sugar, cinnamon, chocolate, chopped crystallised fruits and pistachio nuts. Stir in the orange-flower water. Pour this mixture into the prepared mould and smooth the top. Trim the remaining cake slices and arrange them on top. Sprinkle with the remaining liqueur. Cover and chill for 3-4 hours.

4. Carefully unmould the cake on to a serving platter and sprinkle with sifted icing sugar.

Preparation time: 1 hour, plus chilling

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