Casatella, a Christmas ricotta pie from Terracina (Latina, Lazio region).

There was no more beloved holiday sweet in my hometown of Terracina, than the casatella, which appeared only at Christmas. While most ricotta pies throughout the Italian South include many eggs, lemon or orange peel or candied fruit, sugar and ricotta, this one (unique as far as I know), highlights coffee, marsala, cinnamon, in the ricotta mix, cooked in a sweet pasta dough crust. (The Neapolitan Easter variant is called pastiera and includes cooked wheat berries and orange flower essence.) The love of casatella transcends generations and our diasporas, since I continue to make it, to the delight of my daughters, each Christmas (and sometimes Easter).

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