Sunday, February 15, 2015

The Carnival in Messina is with the black & white pignolata!

Photo source: Siciliafan.it

Have you ever heard of the famous Carnival sweet called "pignolata"? Pignolata, also called pignoccata, is very popular in the whole of Sicily but in different versions. The one I am presenting today is the famous one from Messina and the eastern part of Sicily.

The name pignolata comes from the word pigna which in Italian means pine. This is because the pignolata is made of little rounded balls which are similar to pines of different sizes and they are all stuck together. They can be either fried or baked in the oven. The traditional one is usually covered in honey, while in the Messina style version these little pines are covered with two different frostings: a white one that is lemon flavored and a brown one that is chocolate flavored. Apparently that was because back in the days a noble family wanted a richer and more "baroque" kind of dessert, so they created these frostings instead of the simple honey.

I know what you are thinking: you are gaining pounds just by looking at the picture and it is so sweet that you may feel the urgency to call the dentist in advance. Am I righ? I am not gonna say no. It's actually very rich and very sweet, but ehi... it's Carnival, you are supposed to go a little "wild", so you may wanna give it a try before the Lent starts. :)


Preparation for 6 people

For the dough:
600 gr white flour 00
12 eggs
3 yolks
1 lemon
2 table spoons of fat (or margarine)

Lemon frosting:
300 gr caster sugar
2 lemons
3 egg whites
Chocolate frosting:
300 gr. caster sugar
150 gr. cocoa powder
1. For the dough: 
In a large bowl mix the flour with the eggs and the fat. Knead the dough until is soft and smooth. Add then the lemon and keep kneading for few more minutes. Put in the fridge for 30 minutes, then take it out and start making little sticks as large as your index finger. Cut each one of them up in 2 or 3 pieces (the actual pines), place them in an oven tray and cook them at 180° C for about 10 minutes or so. You need to check the color that must be golden like the normal cookies. Once the rounded cookies are ready, place them on an oval dish one on top of the other, just as if we would like to do a mountain. Leave them like this and start preparing the two frostings.

2. Lemon frosting:
Put the sugar in a sauce pan on a medium heat until is golden, stirring always in the same way (clockwise). Beat the egg whites until stiff and dry and slowly mix them with the sugar. Then, add the lemon zest and keep mixing it with energy until the frosting is smooth. Once is ready, remove it from heat and let it cool down few minutes before pouring it on half of the pines.
3. Chocolate frosting:
Put the sugar in a sauce pan on a medium heat until is golden, stirring always in the same way (clockwise). Add the cocoa and mix until you have a smooth and homogeneous mixture. As soon as the frosting is uniform, remove it from heat and let it cool down few minutes before covering the second part of the pignolata. Then let it cool completely.

Children usually prefer the chocolate half, while adults the lemon one. In any case... put on your favorite costume and enjoy your little pines with your kids, bit after bit. You will love them and have fun!

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