Cassata Napoletana, the historic recipe of Osteria Da Carmela. The best Christmas dessert in the pastiera – Gordon Ramsay’s version

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When we think of Cassata, we all imagine the delight that the Sicilian culinary tradition awakens in each of us. However, perhaps not everyone is aware that in Naples there is a dessert almost as old as the renowned Sicilian Cassata: the Neapolitan Cassata. The term Cassata seems to indicate more of a category than a specific dessert, representing a vast range of desserts made with ricotta.

The debate already begins on the origins of the name, since when the Saracens introduced the cheese-based dessert in Sicily between the 9th and 11th centuries, it is said that its “rounded” shape suggested the name of this delicious morsel. In Arabic, “tondo” translates to “al Quas’at”, hence the term dessert. Others, however, trace the origin of the name to the Latin root “caseum”which in Italian indicates everything made from milk.

The difference with the Sicilian version is not limited only to the type of ricotta used, but also extends to the composition of the dessert and the filling. In Naples, the Cassata presents a farc composed solely of ricotta, sugar and chocolate chips. Furthermore, it is not turned over during preparation. There base is entirely made up of sponge cake, into which the mixture is poured and, before proceeding with the ricotta-based filling, the sponge cake is soaked in a liqueur or rum syrup. Subsequently, once the cake has been filled, it is crowned with a sponge cake cap, filled with a layer of ricotta cream and decorated with dark chocolate curls. Try it and you won’t regret it!

Neapolitan Cassata

Ingredients

-for the filling

  • 150 g of chocolate curls
  • 100 g of chocolate chips
  • 350 of icing sugar
  • 700 g of sheep’s ricotta
  • wet rum

-for the sponge cake

  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 150 g of flour
  • 150 g of sugar
  • 5 egg

Preparation

To get started, prepare the Sponge cake without yeast. Whip the eggs with a pinch of salt for a few minutes. Once you get a frothy consistency, add the sugar. With the whisk at medium speed, continue whipping the mixture for another 15 minutes. Next, incorporate the flour gently, using a wooden spoon and moving from top to bottom to preserve the air incorporated into the whipped eggs.

Butter themFlour a cake pan, pour in the raw sponge cake and bake at 170° for about 35/40 minutes. Avoid opening the oven during cooking to prevent the sponge cake from stopping rising. After cooking, let the cake rest in the oven with the door open for a few minutes. If you prepare it the day before, it will be easier to cut it. Sift the ricotta and mix it with the sugar. Once ready, let it rest in the refrigerator for at least an hour. Take most of the ricotta filling and add the chocolate chips. Save the rest for covering the Cassata Napoletana.

Then, proceed with theassembly. Cut the sponge cake in half and make an incision along the edge of the base to obtain a hollow to fill with the ricotta filling. Before proceeding with the filling, wet the sponge cake with one syrup obtained by heating two glasses of water with 3 tablespoons of sugar and the rum on the stove.

After stuffed sponge cake with the ricotta cream enriched with chocolate, place the lid on the base. Apply light pressure and then cover the Cassata with the remaining ricotta and sugar cream, using a spatula or knife. Finally, decorate the top of the Cassata with chocolate curls. Read also: Baked Sicilian cassata, the 3 secrets of the Sicilian grandmother to make it perfect: “Where do you put the ricotta the night before making it”

Neapolitan cassata from the tavern Da Carmela
Neapolitan cassata from the tavern Da Carmela

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