This pretty layered Italian cake is called cassata. It takes some time to prepare this eye-catching dessert but it conveniently chills overnight.—Karen Albert, Prineville, Oregon
- 2 cartons (15 ounces each) ricotta cheese
- 1-1/2 cups sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- 1 milk chocolate candy bar (7 ounces), grated
- 2/3 cup shortening
- 1-2/3 cups sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1-1/4 cups 2% milk
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream
- 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Whole hazelnuts and chocolate curls, optional
- For filling, in a small bowl, beat ricotta cheese and sugar until smooth; beat in vanilla. Fold in pecans and chocolate. Cover and refrigerate.
- In a large bowl, cream shortening and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt; add to the creamed mixture alternately with milk, beating well after each addition.
- Pour into three waxed paper-lined 9-in. round baking pans. Bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.
- Cut each cake in half. Place one bottom layer on a serving plate; spread with 1 cup filling. Repeat layers four times. Top with remaining cake. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
- In a large bowl, beat cream until thickened. Add confectioners' sugar and vanilla; beat until stiff peaks form. Spread over top and sides of cake. Garnish with hazelnuts and chocolate curls if desired. Refrigerate leftovers. Yield: 12 servings.
Originally published as Ricotta Nut Torte in Taste of Home's Holiday & Celebrations Cookbook Annual 2004, p91
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