Messina pignolata is one of the typical Sicilian desserts of the island: it has nothing to envy to cannoli and cassata. It is one of the Sicilian Carnival recipes that can be enjoyed all year round as it is handcrafted by Sicilian pastry shops. If the classic pignolata - the soft one sprinkled with honey to be clear - is mainly made during the carnival period, the black and white one is, on the contrary, always available. But how is it born, how to make it at home and where to buy it? Let's find out more.
The history of Messina pignolata
Among the typical sweets of Messina , in addition to the granita , the pignolata stands out. This was born as a poor dessert made with cheap ingredients such as eggs, flour and lard. But the origins of Sicilian pastry - more often than not - are confirmed by the Arab domination, and the pignolata is no exception. In fact, the Arabs used to make fried dough balls covered in honey . The birth of the famous Sicilian glazed pignolata , on the other hand, coincides with 1516, the year in which Charles V of Habsburg, appointed king of Spain, found himself reigning over a vast empire which also included Sicily. It is believed that it was the Spanish nobles who expressed their preference for a chocolate and lemon glaze instead of the traditional honey.
Curiosity about the Messina pignolata
The Ministry of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies has included the Sicilian dessert in the List of Traditional Agri-Food Products (PAT) with the denomination of Pignolata di Messina. A curiosity concerns its name: it is called that because, in shape, it would recall pine cones.
The original recipe of Messina pignolata
At first sight it looks like a single cake covered half by a light glaze, and half by a dark one. On closer inspection, however, the little balls that make up the black and white pignolata can be glimpsed. Here's how to make dessert.
- 750 g of 00 flour
- 12 yolks
- 100 ml of pure alcohol for sweets
- Lemon peel
- 1 pinch of salt
- lard or seed oil to taste
Chocolate glaze ingredients
- 200 g of icing sugar
- 200 g of bitter cocoa
- 170ml of water
- 125 g of butter
- vanilla extract
Lemon glaze ingredients
- 300 g of icing sugar
- juice of 3 lemons
- 3 egg whites
Preparation of the Sicilian pignolata
Start by preparing the dough : pour the egg yolks into a bowl and mix them with the alcohol. Once this is done, add the sifted flour, a little at a time, together with the lemon zest and salt, working everything by hand on a clean work surface. You will have to obtain a firm and homogeneous dough. First make small rolls, then small pieces of dough slightly smaller than gnocchi.
Let them rest while you prepare the chocolate glaze : melt the butter over low heat, add the icing sugar a little at a time and the vanilla. Lastly, add the sieved cocoa and water, pouring it slowly. Keep stirring until the mixture thickens properly. Let it cool down.
Prepare the lemon glaze : pour the icing sugar into a saucepan and let it heat up. Once it has become stringy, remove it from the flame and transfer it to a bowl. Gently add the whipped egg whites to prevent them from disassembling them together with the lemon juice. Once you have a smooth and thick glaze, keep it aside.
Fry the balls: heat plenty of lard (or seed oil) in a saucepan and fry the pieces of dough, a few at a time and until golden brown. Drain them on absorbent kitchen paper, then glaze half with the chocolate mixture and half with the lemon mixture, placing the balls side by side on a flat plate. Let cool completely before enjoying. Here is a mouth-watering typical Messina dessert ready.
Pignolata from Messina Thermomix
Using the Thermomix recipe to prepare the Messina pignolata makes it faster. For the dough, simply pour all the ingredients into the mixing bowl and set 2 minutes at spiga speed, then remove the mixture and let it rest as above. For the chocolate glaze, proceed by pouring the sugar, butter, cocoa and water and mixing them for 5 minutes at 70° speed 3. The white lemon glaze is easily obtained even without the robot.
Pignolata from Messina, where to buy it
The glazed pignolata is obviously available in Messina and its province as well as in part of Calabria. In order to be able to taste it in Milan, Turin, Rome and the rest of Italy, however, one can try to buy it (physically or online) at the Sicilian pastry shops that produce it. A much easier and faster method, however, resides in Sicilyaddict , where the Messina pignolata is available to you in comfortable 300 gr packs.
The Messina glazed pignolata can be kept for a maximum of 3 days perfectly wrapped in transparent food film, or under a glass bell. In both cases in a cool place.
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