Source: Great Italian Desserts Nick Malgieri


1 recipe Pan di Spagna



100g granulated sugar

100g water

30ml white rum


Bring the sugar and water to the boil in a small pan, stirring a little, once sugar dissolved take off heat, cool and add rum.



500g ricotta

150g icing sugar

5ml vanilla extract

1ml ground cinnamon

15ml white rum

35-75g dark chocolate, finely chopped

75g Italian Candied Peel or other preserved fruits, do not use chopped mixed peel as it is too strong.

Pieces of Plums in Eau di Vie are ideal


Press the ricotta through sieve, can be used straight from tub of press half through sieve as it is a very boring task! But will help make smooth. into a large bowl

Sift the icing sugar over the ricotta,beat in using an electic mixer until mixture is very light.

Beat in vanilla, cinnamon and rum, stir in chocolate and fruit of choice, cover and refrigerate until needed.



Line with clingfilm, the tin that will be the mould, I used a 20cm sandwich tin.

Cut the Pan di Spagna so to achieve two circles that are 5mm thick. Place one in the base of the lined tin, this will be the top of the dessert. Reserve the second circle.

The remaining piece of cake will make the sides. Cut the circle vertically into slices that are the depth of the tin, approx 3-4cm wide and they should be about 5mm thick. Arrange these around the sides of the tin to line, the cake is soft so will squash into place.

Once lined moisten the all cake well with the rum syrup.

Fill with the ricotta filling.

Moisten the second circle of cake and place on top of the filling. Press gently with the palm of your hand to adhere the cake to the filling.

Cover with cling film and refigerate overnight to allow the filling to firm up.


Combine half a jar of apricot jam with 30ml of water in a small pan. Bring to the boil over a low heat, when boiling strain out any fruit and reserve in a second pan.

When the Cassata is set, turn out on to a serving dish, lifting the tin off carefully, and removing the cling film. If using a loose bottomed tin lift out with no need to invert.

Paint the whole dessert with the apricot glaze, warm if it seems a bit thick.

Leave to one side.



1 block ready made marzipan, colour of choice.

Roll out the marzipan block using cornflour to prevent it sticking to the surface. Use the base of the tin as a guide and ensure you have enough marzipan to cover the whole dessert.

Drape the rolled marzipan over the dessert. Press the top smooth with the palm of your hand, then press against the sides, working down to ensure it has adhered to the glaze. Press into the base of the dessert then trim the excess. It is now ready for decorating.



Use melted chocolate to draw patterns on the cake, I came up with an Christmas Tree as I made just before Christmas.

Use what ever colours or chocolate you like to make a design. Traditionally the candied fruit that is in the filling is used with chocolate patterns.


Once finished, cover to protect and keep chilled.

Selected recipes



6 January 12

There are numerous versions of the cassata and many different ways to finish it. This is a version that is most used in the pastry shops in Palermo and Catania.


A slice of Cassata

Slice Cassata


Tin lined with cake

Lined with sponge


Filled with Ricotta cream

Ready for covering


Ready for finishing

Apricot Glaze


Painted with apricot glaze

Apricot Glaze


Marzipan rolled out



Marzipan draped over Cassata

Marzipan drape


Marzipan pressed on to Cassata

Fitted to dessert