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Recipe for :

Sicilian Cassata

This recipe comes from Valentina Harris.Valentina is an authority on Italian food and food culture and a respected member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals. In 1984, Valentina published Perfect Pasta and has since gone on to publish many more books on Italian Cookery.

One of Valentina's ambitions is "to return home to Tuscany semi-permanently with my sons to run Villa Valentina, the ultimate Italian Cookery School and centre of excellence, where I will celebrate the food, wines and other related aspects of Italy".

The recipe has been supplied by Celebrity Chefs UK, through which Valentina can be booked for TV or other appearances. Celebrity Chefs is a UK based company which is the country’s only agency specialising exclusively in the representation of celebrity chefs. They are able to provide you with a celebrity chef for any event. For further information and to see details of some of the chefs visit the web site <click here>

A classic Sicilian treat is on offer here with Valentina Harris's recipe for a elaborately decorated, rich, ricotta-based dessert .


500g very fresh ricotta cheese
300g icing sugar, sifted
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp rum or liqueur
3 tbsp dark chocolate (70% cocoa content), splintered
3 tbsp chopped mixed candied peel
300g basic sponge cake, cut in thin slices
6 tbsp custard

For the decoration:
pale green fondant
icingflakes of chocolate
candied fruit
glace fruit
silver balls
sugared almonds
rice paper flowers
coloured dragees

  • Push the ricotta through a sieve, and then blend it lightly with the icing sugar until it is of the consistency of lightly whipped cream.
  • Fold in the vanilla extract and rum. Mix in the chocolate splinters and candied peel.
  • Line a 15cm bowl or pudding basin with aluminium foil or baking parchment, then line it with slices of sponge cake slices, using the custard to cement the slices together securely.
  • Fill the sponge-lined bowl with the ricotta mixture, levelling the top carefully. Put a plate on the top and press it down, then place the cassata in the refrigerator to chill for 2 - 3 hours.
  • Turn the cassata out on to a plate and ice it carefully with the soft fondant icing. Decorate it extensively with chocolate flakes, candied fruits, silver balls, sugared almonds, rice paper flowers and dragees.
  • Cover and chill until serving.

Serves 4 - 6

    Valentina Harris