The Mint Shop

The Mint Shop

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Sweet Sicily - Cassatelle alla Ricotta

I am sorry for having kept some of you waiting for the third and last episode of the Sicilian saga. A proper meal can only end on sweet notes.

I believe this is the *two-hundred and forty-fourth* Sicilian dish that uses ricotta. Frankly I wonder what Sicilians would do if they were denied capers, almonds, anchovies and ricotta...

It is difficult to decide what to tell you about Sicily on this last opportunity. The place bursts of any sort of architecture, landscape, food, drinks, is so difficult to pick a specific corner that I just have decided to let these snaps talk for me and to leave you with the sweet cassatelle.

Marsala is often indicated as a day trip or quick stop-over. Big mistake, massive. This little town will tempt you not only with its weather and architecture but also with its delicacies. If Garibaldi  had tried the wine with some of the mature peppery cheese and pistachio salame would probably not have left for its "1000 expedition"! And Sicily would have still be under the Spanish wings. 

The entire island is famous for its marzipan fruit-shaped sweets but the Western coast, and in particular Erice, is the best place to indulge yourself in this almond experience. Frutta Martorana or simply Martorana are a great gift to bring back home from your Sicilian trip and it will last for quite some time - if only because you can only eat half (one maximum) at the time being so sweet!

Cassatelle di ricotta

Cassatelle, not to be confused with cassata (a sponge cake filled with ricotta and coated with almond paste and lemon icing) are like ravioli with a touch of sugar and lemon zest. They are really light despite being fried and completely covered with icing sugar which will no doubt make you sneeze.

Makes around 12 ravioli

500g flour
150g white sugar
1/2 glass extra vergin olive oil
1 tbsp brandy
1 lemon
400g ricotta
50g dark chocolate
touch of cinnamon
1 egg white
icing sugar
sunflower oil

1. Make the pastry by mixing the flour with 125g of the sugar, 2 tbsp of lemon juice, brandy, oil and a touch of salt. Add some warm water if necessary if the mixture is too dry. You need to make a consistent dough. If it is too wet, add some flour.

2. Cover the dough and let it rest for at least 30 minutes.

3. Mix the ricotta with 125g of sugar, zest of the lemon squeezed to have the juice for the pastry, the chocolate made in small pieces, and a touch of cinnamon.

4. Roll the pastry with a rolling pin to make a sheet of 1 cm and cut 12-14 rounds. Place a tea spoon of the ricotta mixture in the middle and fold into half to make a half moon. Seal the sides carefully to avoid the filling floats everywhere once in the pan.

5. Fill a frying pan with the sunflower oil and bring it to boil. Fry the ravioli for a few minutes or until golden. Drain on kitchen paper (which is what I seem to forget to buy every time I fry) and then once slightly cooled down cover with icing sugar.


  1. Sicilian sweets are the best- especially with a nice glass of marsala to accompany them. Che bello (as they say in Sicilian!).

    Do sheep really have such knobbly knees...?

    Where next?

  2. Tuscany, Benin, and then Liguria...lots to look forward to...:D

  3. The photos are beautiful, thank you! I tried the Frutta Martorana too when I was in Sicily - you're right, they're very sweet but so pretty to look at! :-)