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Sicilian Cake with Chocolate Frosting

  • 1 fresh pound cake about 9 inches long and about 3 in. wide
  • 1 lb. ricotta cheese
  • 2 T heavy cream
  • 1/4 C sugar
  • 3 T Strega or other orange liqueur
  • 3 T coarsely chopped mixed candied fruit
  • 2 ounces semi sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 12 ounces semisweet chocolate, cut in small pieces
  • 3/4 C strong black coffee
  • 1/2 pound unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 in. pieces and thoroughly chilled

With a sharp, serrated knife, slice the end crusts off the pound cake and level the top if it is rounded. Cut the cake horizontally into 1/2 to 3/4 in. thick slabs. Rub the ricotta through a food mill or a coarse sieve and a wooden spoon, beat with a rotary or electric beater until smooth. Beating constantly, add the cream, sugar and strega. With a rubber spatula, fold in the candied fruit and chocolate. Center the bottom slab of the cake on a flat plate or platter and spread generously with the ricotta mixture . Place another slab on top, keep sides and ends even, and spread with more ricotta. Repeat until all cake slabs are reassembled and the filling has been used up. End with a plain slice of cake ontop. Gently press the loaf to make it compact. Do not worry if it feels wobbly; chilling firms it. Refrigerate for 2 hours or until ricotta is firm. Melt 12 oz of chocolate with the coffee in a small heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly until the chocolate has completely dissolved. Remove from the heat and beat in the butter, 1 piece at a time. Beat until the mixture is smooth, and chill until thickened to spreading consistency. With a metal spatula, spread the frosting evenly on the top, sides and ends of the cassata. Decorate with remaining frosting. Cover loosely with plastic or foil and refrigerate the cassata for at least a day before serving. It is possible to use ganache instead if you want to.

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