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Colorful Flowers, Rome & Sicilian Cassata

Posted in Caro Diario.(dear diary..), Country House Living, cucina, cucina povere, desserts, Features, La Dolce Vita, Rome, slow food, special occasions, the Mediterranean diet, Uncategorized, and Upcoming Appearances

copyright 2011 Art of Living,PrimaMedia,Inc/Maria Liberati


Editor: Lisa Zatulovsky

From June 17 to June 20th incredible floral works of art will line the streets of the small town of Genzano, at the Infiorata 2011 Genzano di Roma. The Flower Festival in Genzano has a rich history, dating back to the eighteenth century. Originating in Rome, the Infiorata was designed to celebrate Corpus Christi, a Catholic Feast. The festival is one of the highlights for Roman’s during the summer, with its feeling of celebration and beauty, in lieu of the Catholic holiday. As a sight to behold, floral designs reminiscent of mosaics transform the streets of Italy into detailed depictions of famous paintings, laid out with an incomprehensible amount of flower petals. From deep scarlet reds to playful pistachio greens, intricate designs are first sketched with chalk and then filled in with petals. This year Genzano’s theme celebrates the 150th anniversary of the Unity of Italy, dating back to 1861. Seen as a true celebration, locals host concerts, fashion shows, craft markets and painting exhibitions. On the last day of the festival children are allowed to run through the flower carpets and destroy the art, reminiscent of a chalk painting smeared with rain. Some of the elderly collect and dry the remaining petals, which symbolize blessings.


The festive and bright dessert Cassata Siciliana, is just like the celebratory spirit and beauty of the floral carpets. Originating in Sicily, this colorful candied fruitcake is a delectable sweet treat, rich in tradition just like the Genzano Infiorata. Cassata Siciliana is made with a sponge cake, ricotta cheese filling (very similar to Cannoli filling,) dried candied fruit and hints of dark chocolate. The cake is then covered in pastel colored marzipan and topped with candied fruits like cherries and oranges. Delightfully sweet, the dessert will soon disappear once you take your first bight, just like the children running through the streets of Genzano as they erase the last trace of flowers. Sicilian Cassata can be a laborious cake to make, but all works of art take time and patience to create!

Here is a less complicated version of the original recipe for those that want to try it but don’t have a lot of time:


1 lb or 500 gr.of ricotta cheese
1 cup or 300 gr.of sugar
16 ozs. or 50 gr.of dark chocolate

2 tsps vanilla

1/2 cup apricot jam

1/4 cup or 50 gr.of  candied fruit
1 sponge cake ( diameter  12 inches or 30 cm)
3 tbsps of rum

For frosting: 2 cups (475 gr)confectioner’s sugar, 2 tablespoons (30 gr) milk, 1  tsp (5 gr) vanilla, 1 drop of  pistachio green coloring. (If necessary add more liquid till spreadable but thick frosting is achieved).

Line a cake pan with parchment paper. Spread apricot jam on paper. Cut sponge cake in half diagonally. Place bottom layer on top of jam.

Sieve ricotta through cheese cloth to get a smooth creamy consistency. Add sugar, rum, chocolate in shaved or chopped pieces, candied fruit (cut into small pieces) and vanilla. Blend well and spread on layer of sponge cake. Cover with top layer and cover with a piece of parchment paper. Refrigerate for at least two hours.

Once refrigerated, remove from pan by turning pan upside down onto a plate.

Blend 2 cup confectioner’s sugar with 2 tblsps milk and 1 tsp vanilla,  blend till  a thick, but spreadable icing. Add in  a pistachio green coloring. Spread on cake, decorate top with chopped candied fruit and refrigerate till icing is firm and serve.

This makes for an easier version for those not used to working with marzipan (almond paste).


July 21-24- Festa Italiana ,Milwaukee Wisconsin– The Basic Art of Italian Cooking by Maria Liberati tm takes center stage on all 4 days for cooking demos and book signings. Hope to see you there.

For more recipes ,get your copy of the award winning book The Basic Art of Italian Cooking: Holidays & Special Occasions

One Comment

  1. This cake looks easy and delicious. I’ll try it!

    I’ve seen photos of the Infiorata before and I’d love to see it in person one day. Just beautiful.

    June 16, 2011

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