For my mom’s birthday last month (which to me, seems like it was just last week!), I pondered, contemplated and cogitated as to what to make for her special dessert. Although chocolate cake is one of her favorites, I wanted to make something a little lighter and different.
So after much deliberation (and more than a few hours of sifting though my seemingly endless stack of saved recipes), I had an epiphany – how about a cannoli cake? Actually, cannoli cake is strikingly similar to cassata cake – so in a genius move on my part, I combined two separate recipes that ended up being a sure-fire winner all around.
Don’t worry, I won’t break my arm patting myself on the back…..
Cannoli Cake (also known as Cassata Cake) – adapted from epicurious and taste of home
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 eggs, separated
16 ounces (2 cups) superfine granulated sugar, divided
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 carton (16 ounces) ricotta cheese
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
grated zest of two oranges
2 tbs. rum
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups unsweetened whipped cream
Preheat the oven to 350 °F and place the rack in the middle position. Line the bottoms of three 9-by-2- inch round pans with parchment paper and spray with nonstick spray.
Measure the flour, cornstarch, and baking powder into one bowl, and the milk and vanilla into a separate bowl. Whisk each to combine. In the standing mixer fitted with the wire whip attachment, beat the egg whites on high speed to a stiff peak. Drizzle in 1 cup of the sugar while the mixer is running. Scoop the meringue into a large bowl and set aside.
Lightly wipe the mixer bowl and replace the wire whip with the paddle attachment. Cream the butter with the remaining 1 cup of sugar on low speed. Add the egg yolks one at a time. Scrape the sides of the bowl all the way to the bottom using a flexible spatula and mix on low speed until the ingredients are thoroughly combined. Alternately add the dry and wet ingredients about a quarter at a time without pausing between additions. Stop the mixer and gently fold the meringue into the batter with a flexible spatula. Divide the mixture evenly into the prepared pans and bake for 27 to 30 minutes, or until the cake bounces back when lightly pressed and a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.
Cool the cakes for 2 minutes, then run an offset spatula around the edges and invert the cakes onto a flat surface. They will be very fragile, so handle them with care.
For the filling:
Combine all the ingredients and allow to chill, covered, while making the cakes. Can be prepared ahead of time – keep chilled in a covered container.
Place one cake layer on a cake plate. Cover with half of the filling mixture. Place another cake layer on top, and cover with the remaining filling. Place the third cake layer on top. Cover the entire cake with the whipped cream and allow to chill for several hours before serving. Decorate with fresh berries.