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This delicious and famous Sicilian cake, originally made in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
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
- 2 lb. of
- 1 cup of
- Zest of 1 orange
- 2 drops of cinnamon oil or
3 small pinches of cinnamon powder
- 1 drop of vanilla
- 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
- Zest of 1 medium
- ½ tablespoon of butter
For the Decorations
- candied whole
- 12 candied
The Sponge and the
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 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
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.
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
For the Syrup (Optional)
- ¼ cup either of maraschino, cherry, orange, mandarin or any other liquor
- ½ cup of water
- 2 tablespoon
- 6 tablespoons of wine
like Vermouth, Marsala, Porto,
- ½ cup of water
- 2 tablespoon of sugar
- Any fruit juice, preferably orange juice, sweetened to your taste