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The cheesecake and the Roman Empire?

Decadent Delights: My recipe and secrets of “Tiramisu’ style pistachio cheesecake”.

Comparing Cheesecake and Italian Cassata

pistachio tiramisu' cheesecake, ermanno lelli, italian restaurant in hong kong
pistachio tiramisu' cheesecake

## The History of Cheesecake

Cheesecake has a rich history that dates back thousands of years. The origins of this delectable dessert can be traced back to ancient Greece, where it was believed to be served to athletes during the first Olympic games in 776 BC. The Greeks believed that cheesecake provided them with a great source of energy and was a perfect way to honor the gods.

Over the centuries, cheesecake spread throughout Europe and became a popular dessert in many cultures. In the Roman Empire cheesecake (see this article by @CNN), it was often served at weddings and feasts. As the Roman Empire expanded, so did the popularity of cheesecake. It eventually made its way to England and other European countries, where it continued to evolve and be enjoyed by people of all walks of life.

Introduction to Italian Cassata

Italian Cassata is a traditional Sicilian dessert that is as rich in history as it is in flavor. Originating in the 10th century, Cassata was first made by the Arabs who ruled Sicily at the time.

This dessert quickly became a symbol of wealth and prestige, as it was often served at royal banquets and special occasions.

Cassata is made with sponge cake soaked in liqueur, layered with sweetened ricotta cheese and candied fruit, and covered in marzipan. It is then decorated with intricate designs and topped with vibrant colors to make it a true work of art. The combination of flavors and textures in Cassata creates a truly decadent experience that is loved by many.

Comparing Cheesecake and Italian Cassata

pistachio tiramisu' cheesecake, ermanno lelli, italian restaurant in hong kong
cassata sicilian

While both cheesecake and Italian Cassata are beloved desserts, they are quite different in terms of ingredients and preparation. Cheesecake is typically made with cream cheese, sugar, eggs, and a crust made from crushed graham crackers or cookies. It is baked in the oven until it is set and then chilled before serving.

On the other hand, Italian Cassata is made with ricotta cheese, sponge cake, liqueur, and candied fruit. It requires more intricate preparation and is often decorated with marzipan and other decorative elements. The flavors of Cassata are also unique, with the sweetness of the ricotta cheese complementing the tanginess of the candied fruit.

Pistachio: The Star Ingredient in Both Desserts

One ingredient that is commonly found in both cheesecake and Italian Cassata is pistachio. The distinct flavor and vibrant green color of pistachios add a unique twist to these already delicious desserts. Whether it is used as a topping, incorporated into the filling, or as a flavoring agent, pistachios elevate the taste and presentation of both cheesecake and Cassata.

Exploring the Best Pistachio Varieties

When it comes to choosing the best pistachios for your desserts, it's important to consider the different varieties available. The most popular variety is the Iranian pistachio, known for its rich flavor and distinctive shape. Iranian pistachios are often used in traditional Italian recipes due to their superior quality.

Another popular variety is the California pistachio, which is known for its large size and mild flavor. California pistachios are widely available and are often used in American-style cheesecakes. Other varieties, such as Turkish and Italian pistachios, also offer their own unique qualities and flavors.

The Story Behind Italian Pistachios and Why They Are Expensive

Italian pistachios have a long and storied history. Grown primarily in the Bronte region of Sicily, these Bronte pistachios ( see this article by @newyorktime ) are highly prized for their vibrant green color and intense flavor. The volcanic soil and unique climate of Bronte contribute to the exceptional quality of these pistachios.

However, the scarcity of Italian pistachios also contributes to their high price. The trees that produce these pistachios require a specific microclimate to thrive, making them difficult to cultivate in large quantities. Additionally, the hand-harvesting process and meticulous sorting contribute to the overall cost of these precious nuts.

Finding the Best Pistachios for Your Desserts

If you are looking to create a truly exceptional pistachio dessert, it is important to source the best pistachios available. While Italian pistachios are considered the gold standard, other varieties can also be used to achieve delicious results. Look for pistachios that are fresh, vibrant in color, and have a rich and nutty flavor.

Local specialty stores and online retailers often carry a variety of pistachios from different regions. Consider experimenting with different varieties to find the one that best suits your taste and the specific dessert you are creating. Whether you choose Italian pistachios or another variety, the quality of the nuts will greatly enhance the final result.

Experiencing Italian Summer Through Pistachio Desserts

Pistachio desserts are a popular choice during the summer months, particularly in Italy. The vibrant green color and refreshing flavor of pistachios evoke the feeling of a sunny summer day spent in the Mediterranean. From gelato to pastries, pistachio desserts are a delightful way to transport yourself to the beautiful Italian countryside.

Trying an Authentic Italian Pistachio Cheesecake Recipe from Ermanno Lelli's Segreto Private Kitchen

To truly experience the flavors of Italy, why not try an authentic "#tiramisu style Italian pistachio cheesecake" recipe? Ermanno Lelli, the renowned chef behind Segreto Private Kitchen, has shared his secret recipe for a decadent pistachio cheesecake that is sure to impress. This recipe combines the richness of cream cheese with the nuttiness of pistachios, resulting in a truly unforgettable dessert.

Here is the recipe for Ermanno Lelli's Italian Pistachio Cheesecake:


  • 250g cream cheese

  • 250g mascarpone

  • 150g crushed graham crackers

  • 50g almonds flour

  • 1 gr Amalfi lemon zest

  • 150g pistachios, finely ground

  • 100g unsalted butter, melted

  • 100g sugar

  • 4 egg yolk

  • lady fingers

  • 8 double expresso

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

  • 1/4 cup pistachio liqueur (optional)

  • Whipped cream, roses petals, raspberries and additional pistachios for garnish


  • Preheat the oven to 325°F (160°C). In a bowl, combine the crushed graham crackers, lemon zest and almond flour, melted butter, and 10 gr sugar. Press the mixture into the bottom of a greased springform pan to form the crust.

  • In a separate bowl, beat the cream cheese and the mascarpone until smooth.

  • in a mixer, beat the egg yolk till foamy (about 12 minutes)

  • meanwhile in a pan melt sugar with 100 ml water, untill 121 Celsius.

  • Pate a bomb

  • add the sugar to the beating eggs and keep beating till cold (APPROX 28C

  • Stir in the vanilla extract and pistachio liqueur, if using.

  • Pour 1/3 of the cheese mixture over the crust in the springform pan.

  • add lady fingers soaked in espresso

  • Pour the rest of the sauce, Smooth the top with a spatula.

  • Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.

  • Before serving, garnish with whipped cream and additional pistachios. and the berries, Enjoy!

Delicious Pistachio Cheesecake Recipes to Try

If you're a fan of pistachio cheesecake, there are countless variations to explore. From no-bake options to traditional recipes, the possibilities are endless. Here are a few delicious pistachio cheesecake recipes to try:

  • No-Bake Pistachio Cheesecake: This easy recipe requires no oven time and can be made in just a few simple steps. Simply combine crushed graham crackers, ground pistachios, melted butter, and sugar for the crust. In a separate bowl, beat cream cheese, powdered sugar, and pistachio pudding mix until smooth. Fold in whipped cream and pour the mixture over the crust. Refrigerate for a few hours to set, then garnish with crushed pistachios before serving.

  • Italian Pistachio Cheesecake with ricotta: For a classic Italian twist, try making a traditional Italian pistachio cheesecake. Follow the recipe provided above, using Italian pistachios for an authentic flavor. The result is a rich and creamy dessert that is sure to impress.

  • Vegan Pistachio Cheesecake: If you're following a vegan diet, you can still enjoy the flavors of pistachio cheesecake. Swap out the cream cheese for a dairy-free alternative, such as cashew or tofu-based cream cheese. Use vegan butter for the crust and substitute the eggs with a flaxseed or chia seed mixture. The result is a delicious and cruelty-free dessert that everyone can enjoy.

Exploring the Flavors of Segreto Private Kitchen

For those looking to experience the true flavors of Italy, a visit to Segreto Private Kitchen is a must. Ermanno Lelli, the renowned chef behind Segreto, has dedicated his career to creating exceptional Italian cuisine. The restaurant offers a wide range of dishes, including its famous pistachio Mascarpone cheesecake.

The pistachio Mascarpone cheesecake at Segreto is a true masterpiece. Made with the finest Italian pistachios and creamy Mascarpone cheese, this dessert is a harmonious blend of flavors and textures. Each bite transports you to the enchanting streets of Italy, where food is not just sustenance but a celebration of life.

pistachio tiramisu' cheesecake, ermanno lelli, italian restaurant in hong kong

A Taste of Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast

For those who crave a taste of the Italian summer, the Sorrento and Amalfi Coast regions are a must-visit. These coastal towns are known for their stunning views, picturesque landscapes, and, of course, their delicious cuisine. From fresh seafood to vibrant citrus fruits, the flavors of Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast are a true delight for the senses.

While exploring these regions, be sure to indulge in some local pistachio desserts. From gelato to pastries, pistachio is a popular flavor in this part of Italy. Whether you choose a pistachio cannoli or a pistachio gelato, each bite will transport you to the sun-drenched shores of the Mediterranean.

In conclusion, both cheesecake and Italian Cassata are decadent desserts that have captivated the hearts and taste buds of people around the world. While cheesecake has a long history that spans centuries and continents, Italian Cassata is a traditional Sicilian dessert that is as rich in history as it is in flavor. Both desserts share the star ingredient of pistachio, which adds a unique twist and elevates the taste and presentation of these already delightful treats. Whether you choose to indulge in a classic cheesecake or try your hand at creating an authentic Italian pistachio cheesecake, these desserts are sure to satisfy your sweet tooth and transport you to the enchanting streets of Italy. So why wait? Try our pistachio Mascarpone cheesecake at Segreto by Ermanno Lelli at or order online at and indulge in the deliciousness today!

Buon appetito!


©2020 by Ermanno Lelli, F&B Consulting

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