1. Food

Sicilian Sweets and Desserts

Sicilian sweets and desserts are simply extraordinary: Cannoli, Cassata, Marzipan... It doesn't get much better!

Adriana's Sicilian Almond Cookies
Adriana's Sicilian Almond Cookies: Adriana, who makes cookies in Agrigento and ships them fresh throughout the world, kindly contributed a recipe for Coffee-Flavored Almond Cookie Squares.

Black Easter Rice: Riso Nero di Pasqua
A rich chocolaty Sicilian rice dish for Easter dessert.

Cannoli
One of the disadvantages of living in Tuscany is that we don't often encounter cannoli -- they're a Sicilian thing and really are worth a journey south to enjoy (during which one could work in other things as well, say a stop at the beaches of Taormina...). Many thanks to CEILW1 (that's her screen name), who very kindly posted this recipe on the Forum

Cannoli
Sicilian delights.

Carteddate with Honey -- Carteddate al Miele
Carteddate with Honey, Carteddate al Miele: Carteddate are Carnival fritters, and are quite similar to cenci, though they do gain special touch from honey that brings some of the Greek pastries to mind.

Cassadetti & Cassata alla Siciliana
Kit Cat wrote, "I am seeking the recipe for Cassadetti (I may not be spelling it correctly). It is a deep fried cake/cookie, it is made of a sweet dough filled with dried ricotta cheese and honey. They are usually shaped as a half moon. The dough is filled, closed, ends pressed down with fork and then deep fried in vegetable shortening." Turns out they're Sicilian...

Cassadetti & Cassata alla Siciliana
A sumptuous Sicilian dessert, made with pan di spagna and a rich ricotta-based filling. Worthy of important occasions! Also, Cassadetti, smaller variations on the theme.

Cassadetti con la Ricotta
Smaller variations on the classic Cassata alla Siciliana, a sumptuous dessert made with pan di spagna and a rich ricotta-based filling (the cassata recipe is here too).

Cassata alla Siciliana
This is one of the most classic Sicilian cakes, and though some people link it to the island's Arab period because of the candied fruit that goes into the ricotta cream, among other things, it's actually much older: The word Cassata derives from the Latin Caseus, which means cheese. In other words, Cassata is one of the world's first cheesecakes. It comes as no surprise that there are a great many variations throughout Sicily; this particular recipe is from Trapani.

Catalani
Catalani: While we're on the subject of All Saint's Day, someone recently posted a request for a Sicilian cookie called Tatù on the forum. Pino Correnti, author of Il Libro d'Oro della Cucina e Dei Vini di Sicilia, says they're similar to Catalani, but with quite a bit of cocoa powder worked into the dough, and a chocolate glaze.

Chitellini: More cookies from Adriana
Chitellini: More cookies from Adriana: A few issues back I passed on Adriana's Sicilian Almond-Coffee cookie squares. She has kindly sent another recipe: Cari Italiani in tutto il mondo, how is everyone doing? I had a customer who recently asked me if I had a recipe for "Chitellini" and wanted to know if they were difficult to make. Here is a great traditional recipe that is very easy to make and very tasty.

Cosi di Ficu -- Traditional Sicilian Christmas Cookies with Figs
Cosi di Ficu -- Traditional Sicilian Christmas Cookies with Figs: Josephine writes, "I was wondering if you had a recipe for fig cookies ... I remember baking them with my grandmother especially around Christmas time. It was a sweet dough and we would fill them with figs, almonds and chocolate. An Italian bakery nearby makes this type of cookie at Christmas time --- but they are not the same. If you could dig a recipe up, I'd like to make it for my mom."

Cubbaita
An Arab precursor of nougat, made with honey, sesame seeds, and almonds.

Cubbaita
Torrone, otherwise known as nougat, is a concoction made from honey, well-whipped egg whites, vanilla, and walnuts or almonds; it's an ancient sweet that requires considerable skill and care to make well, and in the past was also a great favorite among pastry chefs because it can be used as a building material for making fanciful cakes and other such delights. It's made throughout Italy, and Sicily's is especially renowned. Cubbaita is an older version developed by the Arabs who lived in Sicily.

Fried Cream Sicilian Style -- Crema Fritta alla Siciliana
Elise instead writes, "I'm looking for a recipe that my grandmother (Sicilian) used to fix when I was a little girl. Unfortunately, I'm the only one left in the family and I've lost the recipe! It was a custard that was poured into a square casserole after it was cooked, chilled in the refrigerator then cut in squares or diamond shapes dipped in egg and then coated with finely chopped nuts or bread crumbs, fried in butter and then set a-flame with brandy. Could you help?" This is close...

Fritters for Sant Joseph's -- Zeppole di San Giuseppe
Fritters for Sant Joseph's, or Zeppole di San Giuseppe: March 19 is San Giuseppe, the day the Church sets aside to honor Joseph, Mary's husband. Depending upon where you happen to be in Italy the day is either important or not; San Giuseppe tends to be more venerated in the South than in the North, and is especially important in Sicily, where...

Iris -- Not Just a Flower
Iris -- Not Just a Flower: Got a request recently for A Sicilian pastry called Inis, described as "a fried doughnut filled with ricotta and chocolate chips" -- which I didn't find. However...

Orange Peel and Almond Torrone -- Torrone di Scorze d'Arance e Mandorle
Orange Peel and Almond Torrone, or Torrone di Scorze d'Arance e Mandorle: Here's a richer Sicilian variation on the more basic torrone. You'll want organically grown oranges with untreated skins.

Orange-Flavored Fried Cream -- Crema Fritta all'Arancia
Elise writes, "I'm looking for a recipe that my grandmother (Sicilian) used to fix when I was a little girl. Unfortunately, I'm the only one left in the family and I've lost the recipe! It was a custard that was poured into a square casserole after it was cooked, chilled in the refrigerator then cut in squares or diamond shapes dipped in egg and then coated with finely chopped nuts or bread crumbs, fried in butter and then set a-flame with brandy." Haven't quite found it, though this is close.

Oranges in Marsala -- Arance al Marsala
Oranges in Marsala, or Arance al Marsala: Sicily produces some of the best oranges in the world bar none. They are also fortunate enough to have Marsala, a wine initially produced in the late 1700s by an Englishman, J. Woodhouse, who wanted to make something similar to Sherry or Port. His first shipment reached England in 1783 and was a huge success. It's strong, 16-17% alcohol, and can be either dry or sweet. In this case I'd go with the sweeter variety.

Ossa di Mortu
Sicilian Bones of the Dead, lavishly sweet and flavored with cloves.

Ossa di Mortu -- Bones of the Dead
Ossa di Mortu, or Bones of the Dead: There are many versions of the Bones of the Dead, cookies Italians make for the Day of the Dead, November 2. This one is Sicilian, and made from the same almond paste used to make Easter lambs.

Pasticciotti Casalinghi
Pasticciotti Casalinghi: I've been getting requests for pasticciotti, which are holiday cookies filled with jam, for quite some time, and failing to find recipes -- this occasionally happens, either because the name used in Italy is different or because Italians take them for granted and therefore don't include them in cookbooks. So imagine my...

Pignolata Siciliana
A reader whose screen name is Ireaditalian very kindly replied to a request for Sicilian pignolata, saying, "you are probably looking for a recipe called "Pignolata" which means "made with pine nuts".

Quick Cannoli -- Cannoli Spicci
This is for those without the patience to follow the more involved traditional recipe; it will make about 40 cannoli.

Sfinci di San Giuseppe
Sfinci di San Giuseppe: March 19 is San Giuseppe, the day the Church sets aside to honor Joseph, Mary's husband. Depending upon where you happen to be in Italy the day is either important or not; San Giuseppe tends to be more venerated in the South than in the North, and is especially important in Sicily, where people frequently turn to him for assistance when things become grim.

Sfinge de San Giuseppe
Sfinge de San Giuseppe: Not too long ago there was an exchange of sfingi recipes following a request I replied to in Cosa Bolle in Pentola, the newsletter. The recipes posted don't come close to exhausting the supply of sfingi out ther, however. Here's another, kindly posted by CEILW1 (that's her screen name), to the Forum.

Sicilian Easter Lambs and Almond Paste
Sicilians make several kinds of Easter lambs, the most glorious of which are made from Pasta reale, the almond paste made in Noble houses. Several recipes, and an explanation of how to make the almond paste. Scuplting and painting it? Practice and talent.

Sicilian-Style Stuffed Oranges -- Arance Ripiene alla Siciliana
SiSicilian-Style Stuffed Oranges, or Arance Ripiene alla Siciliana: This is an elegant recipe that will add grace to a special occasion. It will take about an hour to prepare (plus 2 hours chilling).

Sweet Sfinci
Sweet Sfinci: There was also a request for another Sicilian sweet, which led Sicula to suggest a recipe "from Mary Taylor Simeti's Pomp & Sustenance, which is about the finest English-language Sicilian cookbook I've seen." It does look nice, and I checked a couple of Italian sources. Pino Correnti says that they may be derived from the sweets the ancients made to greet the winter solstice, though he also notes that Amari, whom I am not familiar with, says they're Arab.

Tatù -- Sicilian Cookies
Tatù, Sicilian Cookies: From Cosa Bolle in Pentola, the Newsletter -- To begin with, happy Halloween to those who celebrate it! In Italy the holiday was unknown just a few years ago, but it's catching on very fast, both as something for kids and as an occasion for adults to party. We don't have anything traditional for it, but we do have lots of traditional things for Ognissanti, All Saint's Day, which falls the day after Halloween. In particular, Bones of the Dead.

Torrone -- Nougat
Torrone, otherwise known as nougat, is a concoction made from honey, well-whipped egg whites, vanilla, and walnuts or almonds; it's an ancient sweet that requires considerable skill and care to make well, and in the past was also a great favorite among pastry chefs because it can be used as a building material for making fanciful cakes and other such delights. It's made throughout Italy, and Sicily's is especially renowned.

TortaDolce's Tatù
TortaDolce's Tatù: Tortadolce recently added to the Tatù thread (Tatù are Sicilian cookies) on the forum with this family recipe I am happy to pass along: "Here is an old family recipe for TATU' (pronounced 'THAY TWO'). Originally it was a mega recipe, as most of my Nana's recipes were. I've reduced it by 50%. It should yield about 100 cookies."

White Torrone -- Torrone Bianco
Torrone, otherwise known as nougat, is a concoction made from honey, well-whipped egg whites, vanilla, and walnuts or almonds; it's an ancient sweet that requires considerable skill and care to make well, and in the past was also a great favorite among pastry chefs because it can be used as a building material for making fanciful cakes and other such delights. It's made throughout Italy, and Sicily's is especially renowned. Torrone Bianco also has pistachios.

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