We are in the 80s and I am 7 years old. I am spending my Christmas holidays in Sicily, where my grandparents live.
My grandma takes her tin box which she always fills with her homemade biscuits during this part of the year.
That unmistakable aroma that is released when she opens the box, gives unforgettable sensations and emotions.
‘Nucatoli will always be one of my madeleine moment in life.
These exquisite biscuits are made of a thin and crunchy cinnamon flavored casing, which contains a filling made of honey, dried figs, walnuts, almonds, a little chocolate and orange zest.
With a characteristic “S” shape open on the surface that reveals its delicious filling, ‘nucatoli are the traditional Christmas biscuits in all the Ragusa area in the southeastern Sicily. They are also among the oldest sweets of the Sicilian confectionery tradition.
The term ‘nucatoli may derive from the Latin “nucatus”, which means “seasoned with walnuts” which is the main ingredients of the original preparation, but it could also derive from the Arabic “naqal”, which means “dried fruit”.
Usually, the filling of these biscuits is grinded very finely to obtain a dusty paste. I opted to just chop figs and walnuts in order to have a less refined filling.
I hope you will enjoy this very dear recipe. I can assure that one pulls another!
- Preparation time20 Minutes
- Rest time1 Hour
- Cooking time15 Minutes
- Servingmakes about 30 biscuits
- Cooking methodOven
for the pastry
- 500 gwhite flour type 0
- 150 glight muscovado brown sugar
- 50 glard (or butter)
- 2 teaspoonsground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoonbaking soda
- q.s.milk (or water)
for the filling
- 500 ghoney
- 250 gshelled walnuts
- 200 gground almonds
- 200 gdried figs
- 70 gModica dark chocolate 70%
- 1orange (grated zest only)
- q.s.icing sugar (for the topping)
For the pastry
– sift the flour and the ground cinnamon onto a large bowl;
– add the sugar and mix well;
– add the lard, the eggs and mix well;
– add some milk as you work the dough with your hands in order to bind all the ingredients together;
– transfer the dough on a working surface and work it for a a few minutes till you get a smooth ball;
– wrap it in cling film and allow to rest for 1 hour in the fridge
for the filling
– pour the honey onto a saucepan;
– put the saucepan on the stove on a medium heat;
– meanwhile, chop the walnuts and the dried figs and put them into a large bowl;
– add the ground almonds, the grated chocolate and orange zest and mix well;
– as soon as the honey becomes hot, pour the dried fruits mixture onto it and stir well for a few seconds;
– as soon as you get a smooth paste, remove the saucepan from the stove and pour the thus obtained filling onto a bowl;
– allow to cool down to room temperature;
to make the biscuits
– roll out the pastry into long and very thin strips;
– put some of the filling in the middle;
– fold the pastry around the filling by leaving the top open;
– cut rectangles of 10cm length, and shaped them into “S”;
– bake at 170 degrees for about 15 minutes or till golden;
– allow to cool, then top with some icing sugar