Italian Cassatelle with Ricotta Recipe

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Cassatelle, a Sicilian sweet dough, that are filled with a slightly sweetened ricotta and chocolate chip mixture, then usually deep-fried but can also be baked! Sprinkled with Powdered Sugar then served.

Cassatelle on a white plate.

 

A while back I received an email from a reader asking me if I had ever heard of these Cassatelle Biscotti (cookies) from Sicily. And if I had, did I have a recipe. Well after a little bit of digging and inquiring, I acquired this recipe.

They are a treat that is usually made during the period of Carnevale. Fried foods are the stars during carnival from Castagnole to Frappe! Every region has their own fried sweet recipe to share.

Recipe Ingredients

  • Flour – all purpose flour
  • Sugar – granulated sugar
  • Salt
  • Lemon – juice and zest
  • White wine – brandy or marsala
  • Olive oil – light olive oil
  • Water –
  • Ricotta cheese – dairy whole ricotta cheese
  • Powdered sugar – also known as icing sugar or confectioners sugar
  • Chocolate chips – semi sweet, I used mini chocolate chips
Cassatelle on a white plate.

How to make an Italian Cassatelle recipe

place the ricotta cheese in a sieve or cheese cloth over a bowl in the refrigerator, let it sit overnight before using.

Once the ricotta has drained make the filling, place the drained ricotta in a medium bowl and mix with the sifted icing sugar until creamy, then fold in the chocolate chips, cover with plastic and place in the fridge until needed.

Ricotta filling ready for filling cassatelle

In a large bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, salt and lemon zest, make a well in the middle and add the wine, olive oil and lemon juice, mix with a fork, then gradually add the water (you may not need it all) continue to mix together.

Cassatelle pastry dough ingredients almost combined.
Dough almost combined.

Until you have a smooth and compact dough. Form the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic and chill for one hour.

Cassatelle dough in a compact ball
Cassatelle dough before refrigerated.

Remove the dough from the fridge and roll it very thin (you could also use a pasta machine for this). Using small or medium round cookie cutters cut out rounds, on half the round place some filling, fold over the empty half and seal the edges with water then using the tongs of a fork seal around the edges to hold it together.

cassatelle filled pastries

Heat the oil in a medium pot until the correct temperature has arrived, then add 3 or 4 cassatelle at a time and fry until golden, turning a couple of time while frying.

cassatelle ready for frying

Remove the cassatelle with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels, when cool dust with powdered sugar and serve. 

The cassatelle on a wire rack.

Tips for making the best Cassatelle

  • Cassatelle dough is made with a small (very small) amount of either White Wine, Brandy or Marsala, although you could probably just substitute with water or even white grape juice.
  • Be sure to drain the ricotta, this way will insure that your filling will remain creamy without any extra liquid.
  • When folding over the dough you may need to gently pull the dough, these are a very rustic pastry, so no need to make them look perfect.

How to Fry Pastries

  • Always use a vegetable oil or peanut oil for frying (never olive oil). I don’t fry very often so I don’t like to reuse oil.
  • I like to use a heavy bottomed pot but if you have a deep fryer even better.
  • Heat the oil to the correct temperature before adding the pastry.
  • Turn the pastry a couple of times while cooking.
  • Remove cooked pastry from the pot with a slotted spoon and let drain on a paper towel lined plate.
  • Fried food is always best eaten asap, if you have leftovers, be sure to refrigerate the pastry because of the ricotta filling.
A cut cassatelle on a white plate.

How to bake Cassatelle

If you want to bake these then bake in a pre-heated oven 350F (180C) for 20-25 minutes or until golden. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.

What are Cassatelle?

These pastries are made with a simple Italian Pasta Frolla (pie dough) and then filled with a ricotta and chocolate chip filling. Basically the same filling used for Cannoli.

What Is Carnevale?

Carnevale (Carnival) is a festival that is celebrated in Countries celebrating the Catholic Faith. There is no fixed date since the period it is held depends on when Easter falls. However, it is always during February or March. Lasting approximately two weeks.

The festivities often take place in public squares, where games, festivities and food are shared. It is a very pleasant time mainly for children, who wear costumes and celebrate with their parents in the local town square. Carnevale starts 2 weeks before the beginning of Lent and ends on Shrove Tuesday (or pancake Tuesday as I remember well).

How to store the Cassatelle

If frying then they should be consumed at that time, if baked they can be stored in an airtight container and refrigerated from 2-3 days.

More Delicious Italian Pastries

The fried dough balls on a white plate.

So if you are like a lot of people and can’t get enough of Sicilian Sweets then why not give these Cassatelle a try and let me know what you think of them. Enjoy!

PASTRY DOUGH

  • cups + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (250 grams)
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar (40 grams)
  • 1 pinch salt
  • ½ tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon white wine / brandy or Marsala*
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • ½ cup water (room temperature) (120 grams)

*If you don’t want to use alcohol then substitute with white grape juice or water.

RICOTTA FILLING

  • 1 cup ricotta cheese (250 grams)
  • ¼ cup powdered / icing sugar (sifted) (31 grams)
  • ¼ cup mini chocolate chips (44 grams)

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RICOTTA FILLING

  • Once the ricotta has drained make the filling, place the drained ricotta in a medium bowl and mix with the sifted icing sugar until creamy, then fold in the chocolate chips, cover with plastic and place in the fridge until needed.

PASTRY DOUGH

  • In a large bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, salt and lemon zest, make a well in the middle and add the wine, olive oil and lemon juice, mix with a fork, then gradually add the water, depending if your dough is too dry you may need to add 1-2 tablespoons of extra water, start with one tablespoon, continue to mix together until you have a smooth and compact dough. Form the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic and chill for one hour.

  • Remove the dough from the fridge and roll it very thin (you could also use a pasta machine for this). Using small or medium round cookie cutters cut out rounds, on half the round place 1 teaspoon of filling (a little less if using small rounds), fold over** the empty half and seal the edges with water then using the tongs of a fork seal around the edges to hold it together.

  • Heat 2 inches of oil in a medium pot to 340F (170C), add 3 or 4 cassatelle at a time and fry until golden (turn them a couple of times frying for about 2 minutes on each side until golden brown).

  • Remove the cassatelle with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels, when cool dust with powdered sugar and serve.  Enjoy!

**When folding over the dough you may need to gently pull the dough, these are a very rustic pastry, so no need to make them look perfect.

If you want to bake these then bake in a pre-heated oven 350F (180C) for 20-25 minutes or until golden.

If frying then they should be consumed at that time, if baked they can be stored in an airtight container and refrigerated from 2-3 days.
 

Calories: 117kcal | Carbohydrates: 15g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 10mg | Sodium: 21mg | Potassium: 34mg | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 95IU | Vitamin C: 0.1mg | Calcium: 47mg | Iron: 0.7mg

Please leave a comment below or pin it to your Pinterest account!

Updated from January 9, 2019.

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