Cassola for Chanukah

Cassola (Photo by Wade Grann)

By Jessica Grann

Cassola are ricotta cheese pancakes traditionally made by Sephardic Jews. Many consider these wonderful treats to be the original latke. Eating cassola simultaneously fulfills the traditional custom to enjoy both dairy and fried food at Chanukah.

This recipe is for very light pancakes, which are wonderful to eat at any time of year. They are pan-fried with just a tiny bit of oil. You can add honey, powdered sugar or even jam to top them off, yet they are mildly sweet on their own. The batter takes a few minutes to mix up, and I appreciate that they take little time to cook and don’t lead to the mess of our typical Chanukah goodies that are deep-fried.

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1½ cups of whole milk ricotta cheese
  • ¾ cup whole milk
  • Oil for the pan — use a neutral vegetable oil

In a small bowl, combine and whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs before folding in the ricotta cheese. Once blended, slowly stir in the dry ingredients. The  mixture will be dry and will stir up into a ball.

Pour in the milk and whisk until the liquid is well-combined and free of lumps.

Place a griddle or non-stick frying pan over medium-low heat. I use an avocado oil spray to just barely oil the pan. You can use a teaspoon of any neutral vegetable oil and wipe off the excess with a paper towel, repeating as needed, usually after every other batch. Even though we often use olive oil in Chanukah foods, I don’t  suggest using it with this recipe because the flavor is too strong and because olive oil tends to smoke and affect the taste of  the pancake.

Using a small sauce ladle, measure out small round pancakes.

After about 2 minutes, when the edges start to firm and you see a few bubbles, use a spatula to gently turn over, cooking for about  1 more minute before removing from the pan.

You can make larger pancakes, but adjust your cooking times, being careful not to burn the edges.

Serve immediately.

Children and adults will enjoy this recipe and I hope that you use it for many years to come. Chanukah sameach!

Jessica Grann is a home chef living in Pittsburgh.

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