Tag Archives: Christmas sweets

CHRISTMAS AT DOLCETTI in 2014 (and Recipe for Spicchiteddi – Sicilian biscuits)

It is Christmas time and this small Pasticceria/ Patisserie in Melbourne (callled Dolcetti) is packed to the ceiling!

Marianna with her angels and her elves have been very busy; they have been filling Dolcetti with delicious sweets, artfully wrapped and displayed.

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There is no need for me to say much, the photos speak for themselves.

Last year I asked her to provide a simple recipe (it was for Pistachio shortbread in 2013 ) and this year the recipe is for Spicchiteddi/ Spicchiteddi (Spicchitedda in Sicilian). I will  include the recipe at the end of the post.

Marianna has arranged her sweets and produce in a number of attractive packages.

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The price for the large box above is $85.There is even a gluten-free smaller hamper.

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Buccelati are definitely Sicilian…..those types of ingredients are a legacy of the Arabs.

Another Sicilian favourite is Pignolata… I must not leave out the Calabresi as Pignolata is also common in Calabria. The small Pignolata is $11

Notice one of her angels packing a child’s apron with a biscuit…..something for everyone! There are two types of children’s aprons…Both beautiful.

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Marianna makes a Dark and a White version of Panforte – this Christmas sweet originates from Siena.

I always fiddle around with Carol Field’s recipe when I make Panforte. I have written her recipe in a much older post called Per Natale, Cosa Si Mangia? At Christmas, What Do You Eat…apart From Panforte?  

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This Italian inspired fruit cake comes in three sizes: $5.20, $22.50, $64

Notice that Marianna uses Australian apricots – to me this is very important and demonstrates her use of local and quality ingredients.

Vincotto and biscotti

The small- snail like biscuits are spicchiteddi (spicchitedda in Sicilian). They are typical Christmas sweets from the Sicilian, Aeolian islands and contain almonds, citrus peel, cinnamon and cloves.  They also have vincotto ( vinocotto, vino cotto – ‘cooked wine’) and once again Marianna is using some local produce. This one is made by Paul Virgona.

I have used Vincotto in savoury dishes – it has many uses and I have written about this in an earlier post.

As you can see by the shape of the spicchiteddi, children could shape them – they could wear an apron (as mentioned above).

SPICCHTEDDI

Here is the recipe that Marianna gave me:
100gms unsalted butter
250 mls vinocotto
150 gms sugar
grated rind of 1 orange
675gms plain flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 pinch of ground cloves
2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
1/2 cup blanched almonds

In a saucepan gently melt the butter and vinocotto.
Remove from heat and add the sugar and orange rind, stir well and allow to cool.
Sift together the flour, spices and bicarbonate of soda.
Add the cooled vinocotto mix and mix lightly to form a dough.
Leave to rest for 10 mins.
Pinch off a tablespoon at a time and roll into a long thin rope approx 2cm thick.
Roll each end into a snail shape.
Decorate with blanched almonds.
Bake at 180c for 10 to 15 mins.
Brush lightly with extra vinocotto whilst still warm.

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CHRISTMAS DOLCI and DOLCETTI and Pistachio Shortbread Biscuits 2013

It is Christmas at Dolcetti; these photos speak for themselves (see link at the end of this post).

Marianna from Dolcetti is making so many traditional sweets for Christmas. There are too many to mention in this post but here are a few photos of what you can purchase from her Pasticceria (Italian for Patisserie) in Melbourne.

 

There are torroni ( plural of torrone) in various colours and flavours: almond chocolate, vanilla rosepetal, strawberries and white chocolate, chocolate baci, vanilla, roast almond and orange blossom, pistachio and almond……Marianna is famous for her hand made sweet things. f Some of you who live in Australia may have seen her on TV, Italian Food Safari (SBS) making her torrone (nougat). There is also a book of the series published by Hardie Grant.

Giuggiulena (also called Cubbaita) is also classed as a torrone. Click on link to see earlier post for description and recipe:

GIUGGIULENA (also CUBBAITA) – a brittle Sicilian toffee of sugar and honey with sesame seeds and almonds.

Also particularly Sicilian is the Buccellato (in dialect “cucciddatu”); This is made in the shape of ring and is  stuffed with nuts and dried fruit. Photo of Giuggiulena and Buccellato above.

Panforte is one of the oldest sweets in Italy; it is very popular in Siena and Pisa but is now found in most places in Italy and overseas .This is heavily scented and flavoured with medieval spices. Marianna makes both the dark and light version
(different ingredients) in various shapes and sizes. It’s served in thin slices like torrone and keeps very well.

One of my favourites are the dried figs filled with nougat and dipped in dark chocolate; a version of these are also a popular Christmas sweet in Calabria and usually stuffed with almonds or walnuts and candied orange peel.

There are also Italian Christmas cakes – moist, light in colour and laden with rum and marsala. (No images)

Pignolata is a typical sweet of Sicily and Calabria that is popular at Christmas and during Carnival festivities. These are balls of fried dough (they look like large chickpeas) and covered with warmed honey.

She is also highly respected for her different almond biscuits (she is of Sicilian heritage after all) and of these you will find many varieties, however she also makes similar ones with pistachio; one these are the Pistachio Shortbread Biscuits. This is Marianna’s recipe.

 

Pistachio Shortbread Biscuits

INGREDIENTS
250g unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
160g pure icing sugar, sifted
2 tbs fine rice flour
2 tbs corn flour
90g almond meal
225g plain flour
1/3 cup unsalted pistachio nuts, very finely ground (like the almond meal)

PROCESSES
Combine butter and icing sugar. If using an electric mixer it is important that you do not overbeat the butter and sugar as this will add too much air to the mixture. Another way to view this is that the butter must remain yellow and not the pale colour that results when butter and sugar is beaten for a considerable amount of time.
Add ground nuts, and then the flours last of all and mix until mixture comes together. Once again, do not overwork it; being short breads using your fingers to rub in the flours may work best.
Turn onto a lightly floured surface and with a sharp knife or biscuit cutter cut into preferred shapes; Marianna has cut hers into Christmas trees.
Place the biscuits on oven trays lined with baking paper. Space them about 2cm apart.
Bake in 180°C oven for 10 -15 mins or until lightly golden (but being short breads they must still be pale in colour).
When they are still warm sprinkle with crushed pistachio nuts.
Cool and store in a tin.

 

There are other pastries and sweets that can be made to order in various sizes. Some ideal ones for Christmas are:
Fresh Fruit tart – think of Australian summer fruit!
Tronco di Natale is a Christmas log (Bûche de Noël), a popular Christmas dessert in many countries of Northern Europe.
Millefoglie, (the French call Mille-Feuille – flaky puff pastry interlayered with a rich chocolate crema in the bottom half and chantilly cream on top. Photo clink on link below:

Millefoglie

There are fruit mince tarts for those who wish to stick to the Anglo tradition.

Marianna and her pastry chefs are having a good time and inventing some sweets with whimsical names, i.e: Rudolph’s Karolina.

 

Tartufo tortina, is not particularly tied to Christmas, but who can resist these?

 

And there are so many more, too many to mention in this post.

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