Rocco Forte Hotels

Cassata is the definitive Sicilian dessert. This ingenious blend of vanilla sponge, creamy ricotta, marzipan and candied fruit is among the island’s national treasures. It encompasses Sicily’s rich heritage: sugar, almonds and citrus were introduced by the Arabs in the 9th and 11th centuries, royal pastries were perfected by nuns during the Norman period, and the sponge was a gift from the Spanish. Combined, these ingredients produce a show-stopping gateau crowned with jewels of glacé fruit. Here, Verdura Resort Pastry Chef Francesco Virga shares his take on the classic so you can enjoy a taste of Sicily at home.

Ingredients (serves 6)

Sponge cake:

6 eggs
300g flour
200g sugar
½ glass milk
1.5 bags of baking powder

Ricotta cream filling

300g fresh ricotta
300g sugar
50g candied squash
100g dark chocolate chips
½ bag vanilla powder 


200g almond flour
200g sugar
100ml water


400g candied fruit
Green food colouring
Marsala wine 


For the sponge

In a bowl, whip together the eggs and sugar until white and foamy. Mix the flour and baking powder separately, then sieve them in a little at a time. Add the milk slowly and continue blending. 

Once well-blended, place the mixture in a baking tray lined with non-stick spray or paper. Bake for 50 minutes at 165 degrees Celsius.

Allow to cool, then slice into thin strips 4cm wide and the height of the cake mould.

For the filling

Mix the ricotta with the caster sugar and stir in the chocolate chips and candied squash.  

For the marzipan

Mix the water, sugar and green food colouring and bring to the boil, then add the almond flour. Keep stirring and cooking the mixture for a few minutes, then leave to cool.

Roll out the paste and slice into strips the height of the mould and 4cm wide.  

To assemble and decorate

Line the sides of your cake mould with alternate strips of marzipan and sponge. 

Line the base with a layer of sponge to create a basin, and soak with a mixture of water, sugar and Marsala wine.

Fill the basin with the ricotta mix, before topping with a layer of sponge that fits flush to the edges, pre-soaked in the Marsala wine mixture.

Place a large plate over the mould and flip it over. Gently remove the mould. 

Decorate with sugar syrup, before adding candied squash and candied fruit. Allow the cake to stand for at least 4 hours in the fridge before serving.

Try Francesco’s cassata in situ at Verdura Resort. Book your stay by emailing or calling +39 06 32 888 630.

You may also like

A Taste of Tuscany: Unveiling the Wines and Legacy of Bibi Graetz

Take a moment to picture the scene. You’re sipping a glass of ruby-red wine on a sun-drenched terrace, overlooking the rolling hills of Tuscany. Below you, the city of Florence stretches out like a tapestry, its iconic Duomo and terracotta rooftops bathed in golden light. A gentle breeze carries the scent of wildflowers and ripe grapes, and the distant hum of the city. 

Berlin’s Culinary Delights – Fine Dining in the German Capital

The combination of tradition and the joy of experimentation makes the Berlin gastronomy scene a hotspot for connoisseurs.

Renowned travel journalist and food expert, Andrea Schulte-Peevers, with bylines in Lonely Planet, National Geographic, and the BBC, reveals her top restaurants.

From classic to avant-garde, the city promises a diverse culinary journey – explore her recommended eateries near Hotel de Rome.