Tag Archives: Giuggiulena

SICILIAN TORRONE made with sesame seeds (also called GIUGGIULENA/ JUJIULENA, CUBBAITA) and PASTELI and SIMSIMIYAH

Giuggiulena/ jujiulena (can be spelled different ways), also called cubbaita by some Sicilians is a Sicilian sesame seed, toffee brittle made with sugar and honey, sesame seeds and some grated lemon or orange peel. My cousin Franca lives in Ragusa, Sicily and she is the champion giuggiulena maker. Especially in time for Easter and Christmas the extended family await their share – she is responsible for making it and then distributes it to the extended family (Franca is also sanctioned to make scacce for the extended family, just as my elderly aunt is the one to make fresh pasta and ricotta ravioli for all).

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Because it keeps well, it is often served to visitors at other times of the year – it is particularly useful to have on hand in case unexpected guests come. As you would expect when giuggiulena is made in the various parts of Sicily, there are variations in the recipes – some use all sugar or all honey. My relatives in Ragusa add cinnamon and I have seen recipes where a pinch of cumin is added. Almonds or pistachio nuts can also be included, and possibly this explains why this brittle is also sometimes referred to as Sicilian torrone.

Sicilians believe that this sweet is a legacy from the Arabs of some 200 previous years of rule of Sicily and this is not surprising as countries in the Middle East also are fond of this sweet that is called by different names, for example in Lebanon and Cairo it is called simsimiyah. Greeks call it pasteli and they claim it as their own – a legacy from the Ancient Greeks.

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Franca

The variety and quality of the honey you use will make a difference to the taste of giuggiulena.

I used this honey to make my latest batch:

I already have two posts on my blog about giuggiulena, one has Franca’s recipe and the other is from Dolcetti Pasticceria in Melbourne –  Marianna is the proprietor and pastry chef and her parents are Sicilians.

Franca makes giuggiulena in large quantities – her recipe:

INGREDIENTS

1k honey, 1 k sesame seeds, 4 cups sugar, ½ teaspoon of each: cinnamon, cloves, grated orange peel.

PROCESSES

Melt the sugar in a large saucepan on very low heat, when sugar is melted add honey. Add sesame seeds and aromatics mix well. Remove the torrone from the heat quickly (or the sesame seeds my burn). Let cool slightly.
Pour mixture onto a tray with oiled baking paper or a marble that has been coated with oil. Spread evenly and quickly before the torrone hardens, cut into rectangular pieces before it cools and store in airtight containers. Franca often wraps pieces in cellophane paper before she distributes it.

You will find references to her recipe in: EASTER IN SICILY – A SICILIAN FEAST IN RAGUSA – RECIPES AND GIUGGIULENA

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This is Dolcetti’s recipe for giuggiulena:

INGREDIENTS
250gms sesame seeds
250gms orange blossom honey
250gms sugar
250gms whole raw almonds
zest of 1 orange (not too finely grated)

METHOD
Combine the honey and sugar in a pot and stir until it begins to melt and soften.
Add the sesame seeds and almonds and cook, stirring continuously until it begins to bubble.
Let it cook and darken to a dark golden brown colour.
Add the orange zest.
Pour onto a sheet of baking paper lined with a touch of oil or oil spray or onto a lightly greased marble or granite surface.
Flatten it slightly with an oiled rolling pin.
Let it cool before cutting it into pieces.
Keep stored in airtight container.

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Marianna

You will find references to Marianna’s recipe in: GIUGGIULENA (also CUBBAITA) – a brittle Sicilian toffee of sugar and honey with sesame seeds and almonds 

Pasteli and Simsimiyah, variations from the Sicilian recipes

It is interesting that most recipes for pasteli and simsimiyah I have seen, suggest to lightly toast the sesame seeds separately. The hot sugar and honey toffee is then poured onto the toasted seeds and mixed.

You will notice that equal amounts of sugar and honey are used in the Sicilian recipes whereas some Greek and Middle Eastern recipes use more honey than sugar. The sugar will make them harder therefore use more honey for a softer more chewable version.

A little lemon juice is included in the sugar and honey mix in Greek recipes, whereas lemon juice, orange blossom water or vanilla is favoured in recipes from the Middle East – I rather like this variation.

The toffee and sesame mixture is usually poured onto a square tin lined with baking paper with a touch of oil or onto a lightly greased marble, granite surface. One recipe from Cairo suggested using a mixture of and oil to grease the surfaces. I like this variation as well.

 

 

CHRISTMAS Sicilian sweets at DOLCETTI 2017

What will the carretto siciliano carry to you and your friends this year?

There  are many sweet treats (dolcetti) for Christmas at Dolcetti Pasticceria.

This year  all the dolcetti have been wrapped in subtle, neutral colours and packed in wooden boxes. They look very attractive.

And as you would expect, everything is delicious.

There is something for everyone.

New treats too.

These are new as well.

Sicilian favourites: Pipparelli…I love the pepper in these biscuits.

Sicilian favourites: Ciascuni

Sicilian favourites: Gigiolena (also Giuggulena)…sesame seeds and sugar and honey. Arabic or Sicilian?

And Marianna and her angels are still mixing fruit mince for the mince pies. We live in Australia after all.

 

Links to some Christmas sweets recipes:

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

CHRISTMAS DOLCI and DOLCETTI and Pistachio Shortbread Biscuits 2013

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

PANETTONE AND PANFORTE for an ITALIAN CHRISTMAS

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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EASTER IN SICILY – A SICILIAN FEAST IN RAGUSA – Recipes and Giuggiulena

It has been a while since I have had an Easter in Sicily and I am feeling very nostalgic. This year, a large group of my relatives in Ragusa are all going to celebrate lunch at Stefania and Aurelio’s country house, just outside Ragusa and I wish I could be with them.The country house is a stable which in the 18 Century belonged to a local Baron called La Rocca.

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Stefania and Aurelio bought the property several years ago (it also has a few surrounding buildings and land) and they are slowly converting it into a beautiful holiday home. They are using local artisans to recreate and restore many features in the original style and character. As much as possible they have kept its original outside appearance and interior features, especially the original carved wooden ceiling.

I do miss my relatives (and the feast that they will be sharing), but I also miss Spring in Sicily.

In Sicily, spring is the start of everything. It is the time when the island comes alive – flowers bloom, vines sprout and vegetables ripen. Spring is the celebration of life, which in cultural and religious terms is expressed in Easter. In Sicily Primavera (Spring) and Pasqua (Easter) are a fusion of nature and culture, family and food.

The ancient Greeks (once settlers in Sicily) also marked spring and – like the Christian Easter – their myth celebrated another resurrection from the dead through the legend of Persephone.

The Greeks considered Sicily to be Persephone’s island because, according to the myth, Pluto, the god of Hades, who imprisoned her in his underworld realm, abducted Persephone from the Sicilian town of Enna.

So Persephone’s grieving mother, the goddess Demeter, (goddess of agriculture) plunged the island into a barren winter, until Zeus, the father of the gods, struck a bargain with Pluto to let Persephone to return to land of the living for six months of the year. So it is that when Persephone is released from Hades, Demeter allowed the world to thaw and bloom before her daughter must once again return to Pluto and Hades.

The pagan traditions were slightly transformed and unofficially accepted into the rites surrounding devotion to the Christian saints. Offerings of bread, cheeses, and sweets, associated with pagan harvest rituals, are common in many of the present-day festivals.

Some of the foods the relatives will be eating are on my previous posts.

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Here are the links:
There will also be baked capretto (kid) and wild spring greens collected from their property and sauteed in virgin olive oil and garlic  (see top photos, taken at one of the other family feasts in the country house).
Franca will make scacce and sguogghiu (alternatives to scacce)

They will be buying cassata from the pasticceria (pastry shop) and making cassatedde. In Ragusa (and nearby Modica) these are little baked tarts with a pastry bottom and a ricotta, sugar, egg and cinnamon. Some add candied orange.

In the rest of Sicily, cassatedde are ravioli like pastries and fried.

Picture of cassatedde:

The pasta will be a must. Zia Niluzza will be making gnucchateddi (causunedda) all night for so many people!( She never takes off her jewellery when making pasta). She may even make large ricotta ravioli with a strong ragu made with pork and conserva (strong tomato paste).

And there will be homemade liquers: Nocello (made with green walnuts) and Mandarinetto (made with green mandarins)

And small sweets: Cotogniata (quince paste) rolled in sugar and Giuggiulena (or sesame seed torrone). It is also called Cubbaita and is said to be a legacy from the Arabs who lived in Sicily.

Giuggiulena, recipe:

INGREDIENTS

1k honey, 1 k sesame seeds, 4 cups sugar, ½ teaspoon of each: cinnamon, cloves, grated orange peel.

PROCESSES

Melt the sugar in a large saucepan on very low heat, when sugar is melted add honey. Add sesame seeds and aromatics mix well. Remove the torrone from the heat quickly (or the sesame seeds my burn). Let cool slightly.
Pour mixture onto a tray with baking paper or a marble that has been coated with oil. Spread evenly and quickly before the torrone hardens, cut into rectangular pieces before it cools and store in airtight containers.

 

Photos of Stefania and Aurelio’s country house:

Aurelio with one of his horses on the property.

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One of the many lunches at the property. On this occasion the local cheese makers were invited…..this is why there are all those men at the table. They bought cheeses for us to taste.