Do you know what the “Cassata al forno” is? The Cassata is a lovely baked pie filled with a delicious cream made of ricotta cheese and chocolate chips. You can either prepare a big one or if you prefer some mini-pies just like the ones in the picture below on the right.
While the first is famous for its cover of icing and colored candied fruits and it is made of green marzipan on the sides (just like shown in the pic on the left) the second one, which is the most ancient, has got exactly the same filling but it’s simpler because it is just a baked pie. (See the main pic on top or the one below on the right).
Nowadays you can find both all year long, but remain traditional of big important festivities like Christmas and Easter.
To prepare about 10 mini-pies or just one big baked pie instead, you will need:
For the dough
500 gr flour – 200 gr lard – 100 gr caster sugar – 2 eggs + 2 yolks – half glass of Marsala wine – a pinch of salt
For the ricotta cream
500 gr sheep fresh ricotta cheese – 300 gr sugar – 80 gr dark chocolate chips – 60 gr zuccata (which is a candied kind of big zucchini or cougettes) – cinnamon in powder – icing sugar – (In addition lemon zest if liked).
1. Sift the ricotta cheese in a sieve and mix it with the sugar. 2. Stir until it turns very soft and creamy, then add some dark chocolate chopped in small pieces (or chocolate chips if you have) and cinnamon to parfume the cream. 3. If you like it, cut the piece of zuccata in tiny cubes and mix them to the cream. Its taste is very delicate.
4. Now prepare the pie as usual, dividing the dough in two parts, one a bit bigger for the bottom part. 5. Roll out the first half of the dough on the special cassata tin, giving a rounded shape, fill with the ricotta cream and cover with the second half of pastry, that has to be flat.
6. Careful in sealing the sides of the pastry well, so that the cream inside won’t come out with the heat of the oven.
7. Bake for about 45-50 minutes at a temperature of 180° C. It obviously has to be brown.
8. When is ready and has cooled down a bit, sprinkle with icing sugar and cinnamon powder if you like. Usually here in the patisserie you find a checked or a rhombus decoration done with sugar and cinnamon.
If you have some left-over place it in the fridge, it will be still perfect for the following 2 or 3 days (especially if your ricotta cheese was really fresh!) and you will be able to enjoy it for more than just one day!