The following recipe, video and photography were provided by our partner, Alissa DiSanto of Sauced By Sunday.
Coming from an Italian family, cassata cake was always on the dessert menu.
In my memory, this traditionally rustic dessert was always filled with custard and strawberries, then piled high with whipped cream. This new and improved, grown-up version swaps the strawberries for brandied cherries.
I’m always looking for ways to transform traditional dishes from my childhood into something even tastier, and the cherries are hands down the star of the show!
- Cook time:
- Prep time:
- Total time:
- 3 cups fresh ricotta cheese
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 Tbsp. orange zest
- 1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise
- 1 ½ cups drained brandied cherries, plus ¼ of the liquid*
- Cooking spray
- 1 cup flour, plus more for dusting
- ½ cup milk
- 4 Tbsp. butter
- 2 eggs, room temperature
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- ¼ tsp. salt
- Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
- Add the ricotta, ½ cup of sugar and orange zest to a food processor. Scrape in the seeds from the vanilla bean and process until smooth. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and gently stir in the drained cherries. Refrigerate.
- Preheat the oven to 350¬˚ F. Bring ½ cup of water and ½ cup of sugar to boil in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar is dissolved. Let cool completely. Stir in reserved cherry liquid. Refrigerate.
- Coat an 8 or 9-inch square baking pan with cooking spray. Line with parchment paper to assist in easy removal. Spray the parchment with the baking spray. Dust the pan with flour, if desired.
- Bring the milk and butter to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- Crack the eggs in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in the remaining cup of sugar and the vanilla extract.
- On a low speed, gradually add the flour. Slowly pour in the hot milk mixture. Mix in the baking soda and salt until just combined. Do not overmix. Overmixing can result in a tough sponge-like texture.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 15-20 minutes.
- Allow to cool in the pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Using the parchment paper, remove the cake from the pan and allow to finish cooling.
- Split the cake in half horizontally.
- Brush the bottom layer with the syrup mixture. Spread the ricotta mixture onto the bottom layer. Top with the other layer of cake.
- Refrigerate until firm and set.
- Dust with confectioners’ sugar and cut into 9 squares.
*Kid friendly version- replace the brandied cherries with cocktail cherries (alcohol-free) or maraschino cherries.