Pepite with cassata and warm honey
Introduction to the recipe
Along with cannoli, the cassata is one of the most iconic of Sicilian desserts. Arab in origin, it is found all over the island, with the requisite local variations. Its transformation into an arancino alters its flavour substantially, but its essence remains unchanged. The typical flavours of the cassata are respected, despite being reinterpreted and supplemented by an envelope of sweet rice and a tantalising drizzle of warm honey.
Ingredients for about 24 pepite (80 grams)
For the rice:
- 500 grams of rice ("Roma" and "Originario" rices, mixed in equal doses)
- 500 ml of milk
- 500 ml of water
- 80 grams of butter
- 170 grams of sugar
- 1 cinnamon stick
For the finishing touch:
- 100 gr of flour
- 180 ml of water
- 2 eggs
- 150 gr of bread crumbs
200 ml of honey
For the filling:
250 gr of ricotta
40 gr of sugar
30 gr of raisins
20 gr of minced walnuts
20 gr of minced pistachios
Preparation of rice and filling
How to prepare the rice:
- Put the water and milk in a pan with the butter, the vanilla stick engraved for long and sugar. When it comes to a boil add the rice and mix well
- Cover and cook over low heat until the rice absorbs everything and is cooked but al dente
- When cooked, stir in, pour the rice on a cold surface and spread evenly to allow rapid cooling
- When the rice has cooled, it is ready to prepare the ficoccelle
It is important that the rice is quite dry and cold.
- Put the raisins to soak in cold water for at least 20 minutes
- Put the ricotta in a bowl and work it with a fork
- Add the sugar and a pinch of cinnamon and beat it with a hand mixer
- Squeeze the excess water from the raisins then add them to the ricotta, together with the nuts, and mix them together well
- Put the ricotta mixture into a pastry bag. This will make it easier to fill the pepite
Shape the pepite
The finishing touch
Put the pepite in the batter and in the bread crumbs as follows:
- In a bowl, place the flour
- Add the egg and water and beat well with whips
- When the batter is smooth and dense, pass the pepite
- Immediately after having passed them in the batter, pass the pepite in bread crumbs
- Fry in plenty of oil until golden brown, to ensure your pepite fry up perfectly, use one of the following oils: peanut oil, olive oil, or palm oil.
- Heat the oil to the ideal temperature, 190°C, either in a frying pan or by setting the temperature on your deep fryer.
- If using a pan, you can make sure that the oil has reached the proper temperature by dropping in a bread crumb. If it sizzles, then the oil is ready.
- Immerse the pepite gently in the oil, only a few at a time, so as to prevent the temperature of the oil from falling too low.
- When they are done, place the pepite on absorbent paper, then serve.
- Serve the pepite topped with a drizzle of warm honey.
Enjoy your meal !
Those who are not particularly fond of honey can roll the pepite in sugar once they are fried instead.
Add candied fruit to the filling to make it even more aromatic and delectable.
Once upon a time, before the rhythm of modern times destroyed any respect people once had for time itself, the cassata (“a type of cake made with ricotta sweetened with sugar with an envelope of pastry, which is also sweetened and moulded into a round shape” [Pasqualino, 1785]) was only made at Easter. The sheep's milk (or cow’s milk) ricotta used in it had to be produced at that time of year, when the fresh new grass guaranteed milk of exceptional quality. It was, almost, a way to mark the arrival of springtime through a religious celebration.
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- Arancinotto Staff