Baking · Cake · Cupcakes · Europe · Nation Cake Challenge

Malta: Cassata Siciliana Cupcakes

Flag of Malta

‘Hang on’, I hear many internet-based voices say. ‘This cake isn’t Maltese! It’s Sicilian! She doesn’t know what she’s talking about!’ Now, if you are one of these people, you are not wrong (about the first bit at least) – this cake is indeed Sicilian. The flavour combination of this dessert is most commonly found as a cake, but is also the basis of a favourite ice-cream flavour, and by extension a fabulous ice cream cake. However, it is exceedingly popular on the island of Malta as a dessert, particularly at Easter, and as my version is not a strict replica of the original, I feel few qualms about putting it in this category.

Malta Cake 3

As no doubt the pictures show, this is a loose rendition of the flavours of the cake, rather than a complete replica. The actual cake is far more complex and detailed, where as these share the same flavour profiles but can be whipped up very easily. The almond-scented cake is soaked in a rum drizzle, before being topped with green marzipan, and a ricotta frosting including chocolate chips and candied orange peel. The ricotta cheese frosting is almost unsweetened, however this is not to your taste then feel free to add more icing sugar.

Malta Cake 2

Cassata Siciliana Cupcakes


  • 8oz butter
  • 8oz caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 8oz self raising flour
  • 2 tsp almond essence
  • 50ml dark rum
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • 20ml water
  • 100g white marzipan
  • Green food colouring
  • 200g ricotta cheese
  • 4 tbsp dark chocolate chips
  • 4 tbsp candied peel
  • 1 tbsp icing sugar


Preheat the oven to Gas mark 5, and line a 12-hole cupcake tin. Cream together the butter and sugar, before beating in each egg individually. Add the flour and almond essence and mix well. Spoon into the cupcake tin and bake for 30 minutes until well risen and golden brown. Remove and place on a baking rack to cool.

Heat the rum, caster sugar and water in a pan until it reaches the boil, before reducing the heat and simmering for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and pour over the cupcakes, before leaving them to cool completely.

Tint the marzipan green, before rolling out to a thickness of 1mm. Cut out a piece of marzipan sufficient to cover the top of your cupcake and cover each cupcake, trimming the edges to create a neat finish. Mix the ricotta cheese, icing sugar, candied peel and chocolate chips, reserving a small handful to decorate. Spoon the mixture into a piping bag and pipe a small amount on the top of each cupcake, before finishing with the few reserved chocolate chips.

Baking · Cookies · Nation Cake Challenge · North America

Massachusetts, America: Chocolate Chip Cookies

Flag of the United States of America

Chocolate chip cookies. Possibly one of the most evocative recipes, and one that will be likely to take you back to your childhood, whether they be soft chewy American-style cookies or the small crisp Maryland cookies(/biscuits, depending on your definition of cookies!) For such a popular recipe, it seems surprising that the original chocolate chip cookies were actually an accidental creation by Ruth Graves Wakefield, owner of the Toll House Inn in the 1930’s. Running out of chocolate for her famous chocolate biscuits, she substituted chocolate chips, hoping that they would melt into the chocolate cookie batter which they did not, thus creating the chocolate chip cookie. Apparently she then sold the recipe to Nestle in exchange for a lifetimes supply of chocolate chips – sounds like a good deal to me!

Ruth Wakefield’s recipe is still in use today, printed on the back of every bag of Nestlé chocolate chips (I’m sure many of you will be familiar with the F.R.I.E.N.D.S. episode where Monica spends days trying to recreate Phoebe’s grandmother’s fabulous cookie recipe only to find that it is the Nestlé Toll House recipe!) The cookies were also sent to US troops during WWII, and became so popular that a national craze was started, continuing today. It has also been designated as the Official State Cookie for Massachusetts, though I am not convinced that other states have this honour, so it isn’t really so important!


Chocolate chip cookies are one of those recipes that everyone will have made at some point, and as a consequence everyone thinks that their recipe is the best! Type ‘chocolate chip cookies’ into Google search and most of the returned results will be titled (or at least mention!) some form of plaudit, that their recipe is ‘the best ever!’ Now at some point when I have more time I feel that I may need to actually test out these recipes and choose a victor, but for the moment all I can say is that these cookies are delicious, and you will not be disappointed!


Chocolate Chip Cookies


  • 115g/40z butter, softened
  • 115g/4oz caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 100g/3.5oz porridge oats
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 125g/4.5oz plain flour
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 175g/6oz plain chocolate, chopped
  • 175g/6oz milk chocolate, chopped
  • 56g/2oz hazelnuts, roughly chopped


Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4. Line three baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside for later.

Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy before beating in the egg. Add the oats, milk and vanilla extract and beat together until well blended. Stir in the flour, cocoa and baking powder before adding the chocolate chunks and nuts.

Place tablespoons of the mixture onto the baking sheet, leaving about 2 inches in between each cookie. Bake for 20 minutes before removing from the oven and allowing to cool for 10 minutes. Remove from the baking sheet and allow to cool completely before diving in – I know it’s hard, but it’s so much better to eat them when cool!