Friday, December 13, 2013

Back from a brief sabbatical with Cassatelle

I've taken a brief hiatus as I try to figure out what to post, how to post it, and when...So, here is a recipe in progress that will undoubtedly get updated a few times. While in Sicily, Sarah and I stopped in a lovely town called Trapani on our way to Erice (a-ree-chay), a walled city thousands of years old on a cliff, amazing. More on that later perhaps. While in Trapani, we stopped at a coffee shop (since the culture is geared to have espresso several times a day, and they did not have to twist our arms). On that, the coffee there was amazing, too. I often think about our trip and wonder if the "amazingness" of everything we ate and drank was due in part to the awe of being in Sicily, or that it really was that much better...I'm inclined to lean towards the latter...Anyway, while at that coffee shop, we had a cassatelle, a fried pastry filled with ricotta and chocolate chips, again, amazing. It's almost like a cannoli, but it's an enclosed pastry as opposed to a tube, and it's softer. Let me interject one thing here, though. I have never had ricotta like I did in Sicily. As a matter of fact, I can't find it here and it's a bummer. It's made from sheep's milk instead of cows milk and it has so much more and better flavor. It's creamier, and tangier, and incredible-er...I recently looked up a bunch of recipes to try to find a pastry similar to what we had, and found cassatelle. I combined a few of the recipes and made my first attempt. As a disclaimer, I will say that, it's supposed to be fried and I baked them. There is always a risk in baking a dough that is supposed to be fried. I will probably attempt a fried version at some point, and also work on the dough for the baked version. The flavor was great, but they were a bit tough. Again, a risk with baking a dough that is supposed to be fried. Another issue it that several recipes call for marsala wine (much like cannoli shell recipes) or a white wine. Since we had white and not marsala, that's what I used. I think I will get marsala next time, though. The flavor is really great. Here we go:


3 1/2 C AP flour sifted (a softer cake flour might do well with a baked version)
1/3 C sugar
1/4 C vegetable oil
3 T Marsala (or white wine)
2 T lemon juice
1 T pure orange extract
pinch of salt
1/2 C water (or more as necessary)
Zest of 1 orange


24 oz ricotta (Hung overnight unless it's extremely thick. I use a cheesecloth in a strainer, in a bowl. I find that of the typical market ricotta's, Polly-O seems to work well, although I have always liked BelGioioso products if I can find them)

3/4 C powdered sugar

4 oz chocolate chips (I used mini's this time. I also like to use a decent brand like Ghirardelli, which until you get into the really good, high-end chocolates is sufficient)

1 T pure orange extract

Zest of 1 orange

1 egg for crimping

*Note: Many recipes did not call for orange zest and extract, but I like it and think it pairs well with chocolate and ricotta.    

Preheat oven to 350°, line baking sheets with parchment.

When mixing the dough, mix on low and only as much as is necessary, this type of dough can get tough from over mixing. It's not like a bread dough that can and should be kneaded. Sift flour and add all dough ingredients to mixer bowl. Mix on low just until ball is formed. Let rest covered for 30 minutes.

Resting dough

Mix the hung ricotta with powdered sugar, extract, and zest. on low/medium. Add chocolate and mix as little as possible.
Roll out dough to about 1/8th in thick (I used the pasta machine), cut into circles (I used a 6" bowl). Brush egg on outside of the dough rounds, place filling in the center, fold over into half moon shapes and crimp with a fork.


Ready to roll, always have extra flour on hand


6" rounds, but make any size you like

Waiting for filling

Egg painted on edge, ready to crimp

Sprinkled with course sugar, ready for baking

I brushed the leftover egg wash on the tops to give them a bit of a golden finish while baking. I baked for 30-35 minutes or until just golden. 


Buon Appetito!

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