‘Ncannellati

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‘Ncannellati

‘Ncannelati are a delicious but simple sweet made with few, basic ingredients: ground almonds (strictly coming from the Alessandria della Rocca lands where they are cultivated in a particular manner, and the variety is given the name “don Pitrinu”), flour and sugar. However, connected to these simple primary ingredients is a particular production technique, that requires skill and mastery, and has resulted in a sweet with an original shape and characteristics, presented as a form with an swollen central part, and an enlarge surrounding part that forms a crown around the center. All of this is covered with a light layer of white glaze. The secrets of the production are jealously guarded by the pastry cooks of the area, and by a few women who still make ‘ncannellati in their homes, conserving this tradition and handing down the recipe from mother to daughter.   The origins of the sweet are ancient – they seem to date back to the about the middle of the 1600s when Alessandria della Pietra (this was the original name of the town) was governed by the noble Barresi family, which had obtained the licentia populandi to originally found the town in 1570. It seems that one of the Barresi princes, it is believed Giuseppe, who resided in Palermo, used to return to the country and never missed a chance to visit the nuns of the College of Mary, built on his property. The nuns honored his presence by creating delicacies for him. It was for the occasion of one visit by the prince that one of the nuns, Maria Cannella from Alessandria, decided to try her hand at making a sweet with the few ingredients they had available: almonds, flour and sugar.   We do not know well if the characteristic shape of this almond sweet was a result of the baking process or was intentional by the nuns. What is certain is that the result was so pleasing to the prince that it became a specialty of the sisters of the College of Mary of Alessandria della Rocca. It was probably the same prince that called this sweet by the name of ‘ncannellati to thank Sister Maria Cannella who had prepared it for him. Since then, the sweet has always been appreciated by the people of the town and others, and there is not a celebration in Alessandria without ‘ncannellati included. While residents may not all know the origins of the sweet, they certainly appreciate its flavor and quality. ‘Ncannellati are produced only in this town in the province of Agrigento, and are practically unknown in other areas. Because fewer and fewer people make the sweets in the home, the special production technique may be lost among younger generations, and this Sicilian sweet may disappear.

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Territory

StateItaly
Region

Sicily

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Categories

Cakes, pastries and sweets