At Boulud Sud, pastry chef Ghaya Oliveira makes a version of cassata, the ornate Sicilian dessert with layers of sponge cake, sweetened ricotta, candied fruit, dark chocolate and marzipan. The easy recipe here is Grace Parisi's own interpretation.
1 cup fresh ricotta
2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon amaretto liqueur
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Finely grated orange zest, for garnish
2 tablespoons candied orange peel, finely chopped (available at candy shops and at specialty food shops)
1 pound cake, sliced 1/2 inch thick and cut into twelve 2 1/2-inch rounds with a cookie cutter
How to Make It
In a mini food processor, combine the ricotta with the confectioners' sugar and amaretto and puree until very smooth. Add half of the chocolate and candied orange peel and pulse just to combine.
Spread the granulated sugar on a small plate. Lightly press both sides of each pound cake round into the sugar to coat, tapping off the excess sugar. In a large nonstick skillet, melt half of the butter. Add the sugared pound cake rounds in 2 batches, using the remaining butter, and cook over moderate heat, turning once, until the rounds are golden and the sugar is caramelized, about 1 minute per side. Transfer the rounds to a rack to cool slightly.
Place 6 rounds on plates and top with half of the ricotta mixture. Top with the remaining rounds and ricotta mixture. Sprinkle the remaining chocolate and candied orange peel on top and garnish with orange zest.