A very special desert for a very special time of the year. It's Cassata time in Utica.

I've written many blogs about delicious food unique to the Utica area. A seasonal favorite I have never heard of or enjoyed until I moved and married into an Italian family is Cassata, or "Italian Cheesecake".

My Mother-in-law first introduced me to this Easter delight. One day I was at her home when she was making it for the holiday. Her recipe called for 33 eggs, and it weighed about 50 pounds. It's chocolatey, creamy and custard like in texture and I'm sure it had no calories. Even if it does what the heck, you only eat it once a year so why not indulge.

I've also learned no 2 recipes are the same. Some of the other relatives in the family make it with a more cheesecake like texture and a stronger lemon flavor, while others have dried fruit in it.

If you haven't tried this Utica tradition yet, now is the time as it's only produced this time of year. Hopefully you have an Italian friend or family member who makes it, but if not, you can probably find it at one of our wonderful Italian bakeries.


3 lbs coarse ricotta

1 1/2 cups of sugar

7 eggs and 3 egg whites

juice of 2 oranges

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

2 thin chocolate bars

Pastry for pie:

3 cups of flour

2 tsp of baking powder

3/4 cupbrown sugar

3/4 cups of spry

3 egg yokes beaten and add water to make 3/4 cup

Filling: beat eggs well, add ricotta and sugar, beat well. Add orange juice and cinnamon. Set aside.

Pastry for pie:

Mix all ingredients and roll out. You can use 1 large spring form pan or 2 pie plates. Add filling. You can grate some of the chocolate and also add some pieces of chocolate to the filling. Roll out pastry strips to put on the top of the pie. Bake at 360 for 2 hours. turn off oven and leave cassata in oven to rest with the oven door open. This will slowly cool the cassata. Leave in oven for about 12-15 minutes and remove

Happy Easter from the Cristi family to yours.




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