Cassata - in Sicilian it translates to "the most wonderful dessert ever!" In my last post, I said that cassata can induce laughter. Read on!
I can't give you the recipe because it's a well guarded family secret and if I do, I will be subject to unspeakable torture.... (Never piss off the Italian family!) But I can give you a description...
It starts with a sponge cake. Luscious lightness in a spring-form pan. Once the cake is baked, I freeze it. Makes for easier slicing.
Two days before the family chow-fest, I defrost the cake and slice it into three layers. The first layer is laden with freshly made chocolate custard. The second is a mixture of sweetened ricotta cheese with mini chocolate chips and bits of maraschino cherries. The third, homemade golden vanilla custard.
The laughter inducing ingredient?? Rum! Lots of rum! Cups and cups of rum! Each layer of cake is coated in rum before the custard and ricotta are added. Then the whole cake is covered with an icing of the sweetened ricotta, a sprinkling of mini chocolate chips, and a cherry or two. Someone once tried to calculate the calories in a piece of cassata. They were never heard from again...
I Googled "cassata". There were tons of pictures. These look sort of like mine, but not really. When I bake mine this week (not seeing the family until New Year's) I will post pictures.
Cassata is Dad's all time favorite dessert - the one that is only served at Christmastime. After everyone is tanked up on lobster and wine, we bring out the desserts. The cassata is sliced and placed on Dad's dish first. He sniffs... (You can fail a breath-a-lizer test on the fumes alone). We all wait with baited breath...(ok, more like garlic breath...) He tastes....He savors the melding of ingredients and proclaims....
"NEEDS MORE RUM!"
Every year its the same, no matter how many gallons of rum I use. So now we just put the cake on a dish and the bottle of rum on the table! And we laugh! We are with family...there is good food on the table...there is plenty of wine, plenty of rum and plenty of love. Life is good!
"Buon Natale Tutti"