Cassata Ricotta

Tiramisu, the Italian dessert of coffee-soaked lady fingers or sponge cake layered with rich, sweetened mascarpone and dusted with cocoa powder, became an American sensation in the 1980s. But there’s another layered Italian dessert of merit that is overlooked on this continent.

Cassata Ricotta (or ricotta cake) is a similar preparation in which sliced pound cake is soaked in cherry liqueur and layered with sweetened ricotta studded with candied fruit and chocolate. Prepared pound cake and a Viking Food Processor make preparation a snap, and your guests will delight in each slice of this popular Italian dessert.

  • 1 pound whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 4 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped, or ½ cup
  • semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup candied fruit, coarsely chopped
  • 1 16-ounce "family size" prepared pound cake
  • 1/4 cup cherry liqueur 
  • Confectioners’ sugar

Place the ricotta and sugar in a food processor fitted with a metal blade and pulse several times to combine. Add the chocolate and the candied fruit and pulse until the fruit is finely chopped and the chocolate distributed throughout the ricotta. Set aside.

Remove the pound cake from the foil pan and reserve the pan. Slice the pound cake horizontally into 3 layers. Line the foil pan with plastic wrap, covering well and allowing several inches of wrap to hang over the outside. Return the bottom layer to the foil pan, cut side up, and brush with the cherry liqueur. Spread 1/2 of the ricotta mixture over the cake. Brush both sides of the middle cake layer with the liqueur and place in the pan over the ricotta filling. Spread with the remaining ricotta filling. Brush the cut side of the remaining cake layer with the liqueur and place, cut-side down, over the ricotta. Press down lightly, cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve. (Cake may be made 1 day before serving.)

When ready to serve, remove plastic wrap and unmold cake onto a rectangular platter. Dust with the powdered sugar and slice into thin pieces.

Makes 12 servings.