Italian Easter Cassata

Sunday, March 12, 2017
Cassata is an Easter Italian Cheesecake.

This is my mom's recipe the late Margaret Ann Fanelli Colenzo.

You're in for a real traditional Italian creamy ricotta-filled cheesecake that is bursting with cherries and chocolate!

Cassata siciliana is a traditional sweet from Sicily, Italy. Mom was from Bari, Italy and this is her version.

There are over 10 different varieties of cassata in Italy.

The cake is believed to have originated in or around Palermo, where sheep’s milk ricotta, pistachios, and citrus were prevalent.

The Italian cheesecake is moistened with ricotta cheese baked into a delicious crust that has fruits and chocolate in it.

It's a tradition in our family to make this cheesecake every Easter, everyone looks forward to it.

You may also like to try our Italian Easter Dessert Roundup of recipes we make traditionally every year, or our Best Easter Italian Recipes there's something for everyone.

Over the years, we preferred it without some of the traditional candied fruits in it called citron, which is an ingredient used in many bakery versions.

This is an Italian cheesecake made with cherries, shaved chocolate, ricotta cheese in a pastry crust

Mom Made So Many

She made several of these every year, one for everyone in the family.

This was her favorite dessert for Easter to make and everyone raved about this cheesecake.

A classic traditional cheesecake most Italians make every year at Easter with ricotta cheese, fruits, and chocolate.

Not like a traditional french cheesecake with cream cheese, this is much lighter and moist.

I have cut the recipe in half for years, now the family is growing and I make the whole recipe!

this is a ricotta Italian cheesecake called cassata made at Easter

Other Versions of Cassata from different Regions pastry shops in Italy(instead of chocolate and cherry additions)

  • lemon extract and lemon zest around 1 tablespoon of each
  • orange extract and orange zest same amounts as lemon
  • rum extract and chocolate grated instead of vanilla
  • citron or other dried fruits with limoncello
  • all chocolate no cherries

This is an Italian cheesecake made with cherries, shaved chocolate, ricotta cheese in a pastry crust made at Easter

Cassata Tips

  • The recipe makes 2 9x 9 square pans and I double the crust recipe for a thicker top
  • This recipe can be doubled to make 4 or larger cassata cheesecakes
  • I prefer a thicker crust so double the recipe for the crust.
  • The egg wash makes a beautiful sheen on top of the pie, so don't forget to brush the top
  • Spray your tins generously for easy removal or whatever baking pans you use or line with parchment paper.
  • Citron was not a favorite but an ingredient used often in cheesecake, I left it optional.
  • Don't stir the batter after the cherries are added or the whole batter will turn pink, fold gently.
  • This version that is very moist and delicious is from mom's Region of Bari, Italy
  • Cassata needs to be kept refrigerated.
  • Cassata will freeze well, just defrost in the refrigerator overnight.

this is the batter to make  ricotta Italian cheesecake called cassata made at Easter

Ingredients You Will Need:

  • eggs
  • whole milk Ricotta
  • chocolate bar grated( she always used milk chocolate Hersheys)
  • citron (mom always used this it's optional) I prefer this without it
  • maraschino cherries 
  • pure vanilla
  • flour
  • cinnamon
  • milk
  • butter
  • sugar
  • baking powder

This is  the batter on how to make an Italian cheesecake made with cherries, shaved chocolate, ricotta cheese in a pastry crust

Try Some Of My Other Favorite Recipes

Best Easter Roundup


Italian Cannoli

Holiday Cannoli Mousse

this is a ricotta Italian cheesecake called cassata made at Easter

Pastry in Italy

This ancient queen of Sicilian pastries, we cannot leave behind her sister, the Cannoli.

One of our favorites to also make around Easter time.

That is a hard pastry is fried by immersion, preferably in the extra virgin olive oil, the cornerstone of Sicilian quality products, which type of frying makes it crunchy and fragrant.

After it has cooled, it is filled with ricotta filling cream and decorated with candied cherry or pistachio nuts depending on whether one is on the Eastern or Western side of Sicily

this is a lattice crust being cut out to a this is a ricotta Italian cheesecake called cassata made at Easter

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Italian Cheesecake

No matter what Region in Italian, ricotta cheesecake is made in many different ways, you can adapt the recipe to however you prefer or your family likes the filling.

Some use only citron, lemon zest or all chocolate, mom's way was with the maraschino cherries and chocolate and still after all these years that past still our favorite Easter memory of her cassata.

Check out the recipe, there is no right and wrong the filling is a basic tool and guide that will be a great addition to your Easter Italian Dinner, Buona Pasqua.

Italian Easter  Cassata

Italian Easter Cassata

Yield: 2 - 9 inch cheesecakes
Author: Claudia Lamascolo
Prep time: 25 MinCook time: 35 MinTotal time: 1 Hour
This is an old family recipe called cassata which is a ricotta cheesecake with cherries and chocolate baked into a cookie dough style crust.


  • Filling:
  • 6 eggs
  • 3/4  cup of sugar
  • 1-15-ounce container of whole milk Ricotta
  • 8 ounces chocolate bar grated( she always used milk chocolate Hersheys)
  •  8  ounces of candied citron (mom always used this it's optional) I prefer this without it
  • 1/2 a jar of maraschino cherries chopped in chunky pieces blotted dry with paper towels
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla
  • Mix all ingredients (except cherries and chocolate)together then fold in the cherries and chocolate and set aside.
  • For the Crust:
  • Note For Crust: double the recipe for a lattice dough top and make thin strips
  • 2-1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 stick of butter ( equal to a 1/2 cup)
  • 3/4 cups of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • Other suggestions: this recipe can easily be doubled. This will make 2 - 9 x 9 thinly rolled out dough with a lattice crust. We like a thicker dough so I doubled the dough recipe. We use disposable square pans. 


  1. Preheat the oven to 350.
  2. Grease two 9 inch pans lightly with cooking spray or line with parchment paper.
  3. Mix all the dough ingredients in a bowl until it forms a ball.
  4. Roll the dough out thin and line your prepared pans with it.
  5. Pour in the filling.
  6. Make a lattice-style crust and place the strips on the bottom and top like a weave.
  7. You can brush the top with beaten egg wash.
  8. Bake in the preheated oven until the crust looks brown and the middle looks solid around 35 to 45 minutes depending on how thick your cassata is and the pans you used.
  9. Cool completely before cutting.
  10. Store leftovers in the refrigerator covered.
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Cannoli Stuffed French Toast

Italian Pizzelle Waffle Cookies

This is an Italian cheesecake made with cherries, shaved chocolate, ricotta cheese in a pastry crust


  1. What a wonderful recipe to have from your mom! I know my family would love this..I'm a little intimidated though, I'm not good with crust. I wish I had time to make it for Easter but I'm already trying to make the Easter bread and that's hard enough for me! :) I will hold on to this and try to make it for my next family gathering. Enjoy your cheesecake this weekend!!!

  2. This sounds lovely!
    Family recipes are always the best!

  3. Ahhhhh yes!!This looks VERY familiar. You forgot to mention how lovely it smells when it's baking. This tastes and smells like every Italian grandmother's Easter kitchen!

  4. Nothing like tradition during a holiday. I bet this cheesecake tastes great. I'm making a cheesecake for my family this weekend. Have a wonderful Easter!

  5. hello I love ricotta and love to ccok it !! Cheers from paris PIerre

  6. I love recipes that are handed down through families. We are all so lucky to have you share this with us! Happy Easter Claudia!

  7. This is a wonderful recipe made all the more special because it is from your Mum.

    I have a friend from Sicily who makes a similar recipe for it is wonderful to have this recipe.

    I am so glad to you visited my blog and commented on my Pastiera di Grana from Campania.


    I'll be back for more of your lovely recipes.

    Ciao, Devaki @ weavethousandflavors

  8. Aww, that's so great to have wonderful recipes from your mom. I bet she was an amazing woman. (Well, she had you didn't she?)

  9. Happy Easter Claudia!
    The recipe of your mom is wonderful, I like it, especially the addition of chocolate!

  10. What a great family recipe! Must be your favourite recipe. Looks fantastic! Happy Easter Day to you & your family!
    Blessing, Kristy

  11. Thereare never enough ricotta cheesecake recipes. I will try every one that comes my way. This looks beautiful, Claudia. Buona Pasqua!

  12. Ooh that looks so delicious! What a beautiful creation!

  13. So beautiful with the lattice crust...and a nice memory of your dear mother with every bite. Happy Easter, Claudia!

  14. It's such a treasure to carry on your mom's recipes and to share it with friends...because only a friend would share something this special to their heart and Claudia, you've been doing that all along:D
    Your traditional, beautiful Easter Cassata reminds me of the Alla Cassata Siciliana which I have not made in a long time, but it has the same filling, but made in a round cheesecake form.

    Thank you for sharing your sweet mom's recipe.

    Buona Pasqua, e che desiderano il meglio per questa bella giornata
    tua amica,

  15. Always wonderful to have a special recipe from Mom :) This sounds so wonderful. Happy Easter!

  16. Your mom's recipe is AMAZING! Happy Easter!!!

  17. I love the simplicity in making this but it is so flavourful! Is that really a half recipe you posted? I think I will tuck this one away for the next potluck!

  18. I just halved the recipe posted...and made two alterations...first of all "Citron"is boiled lemon peel...but...wasn't sure why it notes the amount in I was thinking citron as in lemon flavored vodka??? anyway, I substituted lemoncello liquor (2 oz) with a spalsh of citron...and then I also added lemon zest to the crust... also I was able to pour the mixture into a 9" springform pan with halving the crust recipe as well and pressing into the bottom of the pan, partially up the sides (did not have extra to lay in sections across the top) smells so good!! I did have to reduce the oven temp to 300 after 1.5 hours and covered the top with foil to continue looks so wonderful. This recipe is a bit different from my Sicilian grandmother's recipe, but thought it sounded so good and perfect to try for this Easter. I will update with final results once sampled. Thank you for sharing!!

  19. What a wonderful tradition and recipe you have inherriated from you mom.

  20. I make a cassatta every year. I use a dough you pat into the pan.

  21. I love the chocolate and cherries, two of my favorite flavors, although I would use fresh cherries not the candied ones. This sounds lovely!

  22. I'll definitely be trying this recipe. I'm going to ask my 95 year old Italian Father-in-Law if he's heard of it? I like cooking him dishes his mother made.

  23. I think this is one of those recipes that I have never tried yet. Super excited to give it a try though!

  24. Thank you for sharing your family recipe! I love finding new authentic recipes to try from around the world!

  25. Yummy! Made it over the weekend as a practice run before Easter! Absolutely delicious!

  26. I was super intrigued when I saw this so I decided to give it a try. OMG, it is so good. I can honestly say I've never had anything like it.

  27. Being from Upstate I had a recipe years ago and got misplaced. I've been craving this for many years so glad I found your recipe, Made it yesterday came out just as I remember. Want to make Pusties next ( or have someone else lol ) Cassata is one of my favorites. Hope you have a Happy Easter !

  28. My grandparents were from Bari. This is the exact recipe that I have been making for years passed down from my grandma. My daughter requests it every year.

    1. I just looked at the recipe and it's just like the one I have at home which I didn't bring with me on vacation and I'm improvising because I'm doing it in pie plates this year instead of a huge metal 15 inch cake pan


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