Considered the king of Sicilian pastries, the cannolo is many centuries old and is made of a fried wafer rolled up and filled with fresh ricotta. Depending on the area, the filling can be enriched with candied orange peels, chopped pistachios, or bits of chocolate; or the filling can be made of chocolate cream instead of ricotta. Cannoli are traditionally a Mardi Gras sweet, but its unparalleled flavor has made it a common example of Italian pastry worldwide.
If the cannolo is the king of Sicilian pastries, the cassata is surely the queen. The ancient recipe calls for a base made of fresh ricotta, sponge cake, almond paste, sugar frosting and decorations made with candied fruit. There are plenty local variants of this cake, which is originally from Palermo.
Cassata a forno
Some consider this a “poor” version of the previous cake (in fact it seems it is its “ancestor”), but this judgment is not fair to this delicious dessert, another classic of Sicilian patisserie. Here the ricotta cream, enhanced by chocolate bits (some add little pieces of candied fruits), is enveloped in shortcrust pastry. After being baked in the oven, it is dusted in confectioner’s sugar and cinnamon and served cold.
Sicilian granita (slush) has always been the typical breakfast for Sicilians, above all in the summer in the coastal areas. Used also as an afternoon snack, granita is a semi-frozen, grainy liquid made of water, sugar and extract of the main ingredient (lemon, pistachio, coffee, etc.). It is almost always eaten together with the classic brioscia con tuppo, a sweet roll made with leavened egg dough.
Also known as Royal Paste because it is “worthy of a king,” almond paste is another typical product of the island’s pastry. It is used in the preparation of various recipes, such as: cookies and pastries with almonds or candied fruit, frutta martorana (which is presented as a gift on All Saints’ Day), cassata and cassatelle.