Cassata Siciliana
The Sicilian cake called cassata is arguably the most famous sweet of Sicily. Cassata is today a complex cake of layered liqueur-soaked genoise interspersed with sweetened ricotta cheese, fruit preserves and jellies surrounded by marzipan and decorated with Baroque garnishes and flourishes of marzipan fruits, rosettes, flowers, and curlicues. Cassata probably originated as a simple egg, sugar, and ricotta cheese cake. The term Cassata probably comes from the Latin Caseus, the word for cheese, because it is made with cheese. However, its genesis may very well be traced to the Arab era. The Arabic name al-Qassāṭỉ (Arabic for 'cassata-maker') is first mentioned in Corleone in 1178 and cassata is believed to have been first made in its elementary form in Palermo during Muslim rule in the 10th century. The Arabic word qas'ah, from which cassata is generally believed to derive, refers to the bowl used to shape the cake. Cassata was traditionally made as an Easter specialty by the monastery nuns: it was so delicious and seductive that in 1574 the diocese of Mazara del Vallo had to prohibit its making during the holy week because the nuns preferred to bake and eat it than pray. Cassata Catanese, as it is often prepared in the Sicilian province of Catania, is made similar to a pie, containing a top and bottom crust, filled with ricotta, and baked in the oven. The Cassatella di Sant'Agata is a similar dessert, but made in a smaller, personal-serving size, with a candied cherry on top.

Cassata Siciliana

The Sicilian cake called cassata is arguably the most famous sweet of Sicily. Cassata is today a complex cake of layered liqueur-soaked genoise interspersed with sweetened ricotta cheese, fruit preserves and jellies surrounded by marzipan and decorated with Baroque garnishes and flourishes of marzipan fruits, rosettes, flowers, and curlicues. Cassata probably originated as a simple egg, sugar, and ricotta cheese cake. The term Cassata probably comes from the Latin Caseus, the word for cheese, because it is made with cheese. However, its genesis may very well be traced to the Arab era. The Arabic name al-Qassāṭỉ (Arabic for 'cassata-maker') is first mentioned in Corleone in 1178 and cassata is believed to have been first made in its elementary form in Palermo during Muslim rule in the 10th century. The Arabic word qas'ah, from which cassata is generally believed to derive, refers to the bowl used to shape the cake. Cassata was traditionally made as an Easter specialty by the monastery nuns: it was so delicious and seductive that in 1574 the diocese of Mazara del Vallo had to prohibit its making during the holy week because the nuns preferred to bake and eat it than pray. Cassata Catanese, as it is often prepared in the Sicilian province of Catania, is made similar to a pie, containing a top and bottom crust, filled with ricotta, and baked in the oven. The Cassatella di Sant'Agata is a similar dessert, but made in a smaller, personal-serving size, with a candied cherry on top.
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