The Cassata Siciliana Trifle 


Zuppa di Cassata 


Cassata na' Suppiera


This delicious and famous Sicilian cake, originally made in Palermo, is classically prepared in a special mold, covered on the sides with green marzipan and sumptuously decorated with colorful candied fruits.  

This dessert, that goes back prior to the Roman era, has evolved, had been  modified and some elements replaced as for instance honey with sugar or by adding marzipan and candied fruits, an Arab innovation, in addition to  essences from the Far-East and chocolate from America. 

When the special round mold used to assemble the cassata is not available, the cassata can be built in layers, shaped round or square or as a cassata trifle, a “zuppa di cassata” and prepared in a “suppiera”, a porcelain bowl or in a 3 quart decorative stem glass bowl, for a spectacular presentation; because the trifle is dished out  “with a spoon”, in Sicily is called “un dolce da cucchiara”.

If you are going to serve the cassata the same day, make a syrup and use it sparingly; or rest the cassata  overnight in the refrigerator and allow that the fluid content of the ricotta, blends in with the sponge and makes the pan di Spagna soft and aromatic.

The recipes for the syrup are at the end of this page.. 




  • 1 Pan di Spagna, 9 inch round or 1 ½ lb. store brought 
  • 2 lb. of ricotta 
  • 1 cup of sugar 
  • Zest of 1 orange  
  • 2 drops of cinnamon oil or 3 small pinches of cinnamon powder  
  • 1 drop of vanilla essence 
  • ¼ lb. diced candied citron  
  • ¼ cup of chocolate chips or bitter-chocolate shavings 


For the Glaze 

  • ½  cup confectionary sugar 
  • 2 tablespoons of lemon juice 
  • Zest of 1 medium lemon 
  • ½  tablespoon of butter 


For the Decorations 

  • candied whole fruits 
  • 12 candied cherries 




The Sponge and the Cream 

Day ahead, prepare or purchase the sponge, “Pan di Spagna”, and in a large bowl, mix well the ricotta and sugar until smooth. Blend in the zest of orange, cinnamon and the vanilla, store in the refrigerator overnight. 


The Trifle Cassata 

The following day, mix the ricotta cream with a wooden spoon to aerate and make it silky-smooth. 

Lay down the sponge in the cutting board and with a sharp, serrated knife cut into slices half inch thick. 

Line the bottom of the bowl with slices of pan di Spagna to cover it.  

If using the syrup lightly brush or drizzle on the sponge and spread 1/3 of the ricotta cream over it; sprinkle on top 1/3 of the citron and some chocolate chips or shavings. 

Repeat as above with a layer of sponge, syrup, ricotta cream, citron and chocolate.  

Repeat again, sponge, syrup, ricotta cream, citron and chocolate, and top with the remaining sponge. 

Lightly press down on top to compact; store for a few hours or overnight in the refrigerator to allow the ricotta cream and the pan di Spagna to join together their taste and to get firm. 


The Garnish  

To make the glace, whisk all the ingredients in a heat resistant bowl to form a thick and uniform paste. Then cook it for a few minutes, at a very low heat or in a double boiler, turning continuously, until smooth and soft. 


Pour over some glaze on top of trifle a little at a time and with the help of a spatula spread to make a very thin layer and cover the cassata completely.  

Decorate with candied fruits, placing a whole fruit in the center of the trifle cassata, cut some candied fruits in four pieces and display using your imagination; all around make a crown with candied cherries and rest in the refrigerator until ready to serve. 


For the Syrup (Optional) 

         Liquor Flavored 

  • ¼ cup either of maraschino, cherry, orange, mandarin or any other liquor  
  • ½ cup of water  
  • 2 tablespoon sugar 


         Fortified Wine 

  • 6 tablespoons of wine like Vermouth, Marsala, Porto, etc. 
  • ½ cup of water  
  • 2 tablespoon of sugar 


         Alcohol free 

  • Any fruit juice, preferably orange juice, sweetened to your taste