“The Arabic influence in Sicilian desserts really sings out in this cassata of silky smooth ricotta with chunks of nuts and chocolate, all wrapped up in Vin Santo sponge and pistachio marzipan. I love this rolled version. ”
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350ºF/gas 4. For the sponge, whisk the eggs and sugar with an electric mixer, or by hand, until pale, fluffy and at least doubled in size. Sift in the flour, add the vanilla paste, then slowly fold through. Grease a baking tray (26cm x 36cm) with butter, then line it with greaseproof paper and grease that, too. Spoon the batter into the tray and bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until cooked through. Meanwhile, blitz the pistachios in a food processor until fine. Break in the marzipan and blitz until it forms a dough, adding a splash of water to combine, if needed.
Take the sponge out of the oven and confidently flip it out on to a clean tea towel. Peel off the greaseproof, place it back on top, then roll up while the sponge is still warm and flexible. Leave to cool for around 20 minutes.
For the filling, whiz the ricotta with the sugar in a food processor until smooth. Toast the hazelnuts in a frying pan until golden, then finely chop with the glacé fruit, pistachios and chocolate. Mix into the ricotta.
Roll out most of the marzipan on a large sheet of greaseproof paper to 26cm x 46cm, and 2mm thick. Spread over the jam, unroll the sponge on top, drizzle over the Vin Santo and spread over the ricotta. Line up the cherries along the side nearest you, then, using the paper to help you, roll it up, pressing lightly to seal. Trim the ends, then roll out the remaining marzipan and stamp out shapes to decorate the top. Serve it after 30 minutes’ chilling in the fridge, or freeze for another day. If frozen, defrost in the fridge for 3 hours before serving. Dust with icing sugar to finish.