Friday, August 22, 2014

What's Baking?: Cassatedde

It's time for another What's Baking? entry!  This month, Ali from Sparks from the Kitchen challenged us to make a dish celebrating our heritage.  The largest part of my background is Italian, so that's where my mind immediately went.  Plus, I mean, there's a huge list of delicious Italian pastries to choose from!  I've already made pignoli, tiramisu, amaretti, and pasticiotti, so I obviously like Italian desserts...the trick was finding one that I haven't made before!  I was perusing Cooking With Nonna to get some ideas, and cassatedde jumped out at me.  They looked like cannoli, which I love, but without the need for cannoli forms, which I don't have.  Now, as it turns out, they're rather different from cannoli, but still very delicious!  A flaky pastry is filled with a slightly sweetened mixture of ground almonds and could it be bad?!  If you're looking for an Italian pastry that's a little bit different, I highly recommend cassatedde.

Cassatedde (adapted from Cooking with Nonna)

  • 1 lb. flour
  • 2.5 oz. shortening
  • 5 oz. sugar, divided
  • 1 egg plus 1 yolk, divided
  • 3/4 c. white wine
  • 1 lb. ricotta
  • 1/4 lb. almond flour (you can substitute 1/4 lb. of almonds ground in a food processor, but the filling will not be as smooth)
  • Splash of almond extract

In a stand mixer, mix the flour, shortening, 2 oz. sugar, 1 egg yolk, and white wine until a dough forms.  You may need a tad more than 3/4 c. wine.  Wrap the dough in plastic wrap, and let it rest for at least 1 hour.

Meanwhile, combine the ricotta, almond flour or ground almonds, almond extract, and remaining 3 oz of sugar.  Refrigerate the filling until it is needed.  Take the remaining egg and scramble it with a little bit of water.

Roll the dough out to about 1/16" thick--it needs to be pretty thin.  Cut out 3" rounds.  Brush the edges with the egg wash, and fill with about half a tablespoon of filling.  Fold it over, and seal the edges.  An empanada press works great for this.

If baking the cookies, brush with canola or spritz with cooking spray, and bake at 375*F for 7-10 minutes, or until crispy.  If frying, fry the cookies at 375*F for 3 minutes or until golden brown.  If desired, dust with powdered sugar when cool.  As written, the recipe makes about 5 dozen cassatedde.