Though over two months have gone by since I came back from my trip to Sicily, the taste of the island have still been tickling my taste buds and mind. When looking for an idea for this joint SHF/IMBB event, I simply could not get Sicily from my mind. Also, that little stash of pastry ingredients I brought back seemed just to be calling out to be used in a special cookie recipe made up just for the event: that's exactly what I did. Yet, since this time we have three days to post our recipes, why not use the chance and present a little menu of posts on Sicilian sweets: one for each day, ending with the real recipe on Sunday. So today let's start with:
The amuse – Sicilian almond pastries
Almonds have been a part of Mediterranean cooking for over two thousand years, and while it may have lost relevance as ingredient in time – the Middle Ages with its many blancmange or biancomagiare long gone– it still remains a prized element in sweets. In some regions this is true more than in others. Sicily is undoubtedly the place in Italy where almonds are used at their best: from drinks (latte di mandorla) to ices (granita) up to a number of almond and almond paste based pastries. If that wasn't enough the island also produced what is considered to be one of the best kinds of almond: Mandorla d'Avola.
During our few days in Modica we visited Bonajuto, arguably the town's most famous pastry shop, and maybe the best (though some expert's opinion disagrees). Apart tasting their fantastic chocolate and cannoli, we had a good sampling of their almond pastries: the basic almond paste dough mellow, aromatic and simply delicious, and the different flavoured pastries all a special treat. Among them the candied orange (above) and carob (below) were definitely my favourite. That's all for now... more tomorrow.