Buccellati cookies are a typical Christmas delicacy of Sicily and as other sweets of the Sicilian tradition is a real triumph of flavours. Sicilian desserts look sumptuous and the recipes are the result of a past made of contaminations and contributions from different cultures. The winter season and, in particular, the month of December is characterized by some typical recipes, to be consumed on the occasion of the holidays.
Buccellati cookies are rich sweets, particularly spicy, and fragrant. The buccellati recipe is one of the most appreciated pastry of Sicily and its history is interesting. Even if it is traditionally eaten during the December holidays, it is found without too much difficulty even at other times of the year. The outside of buccellati cookies is a shortcrust pastry, while the inside is a mixture of dried figs, candied zucca, chocolate, dried fruits, citron and candied orange and raisins.
In the more traditional version, the buccellatolooks like a donut richly decorated with a glace or with various toppings and sometimes it is displayed in the centre of the table. There are also other shapes and variants, such as buccellatini, such as small individual buccelati cookies. Today, waiting for Christmas, we want to give you the original buccellati recipe, to prepare together this beautiful and tasty Sicilian dessert, but first let’s discover a bit of history of the buccellati cookies.
Buccellati cookies and their history
Buccellati cookies were born from years of history and different cultures. The name derives from the Latin “buccellatum”, that is a donut-shaped bread that the ancient Romans prepared during the holiday season. Apparently, the Sicilian dessert would have a lot in common with a traditional Tuscan dessert. In fact, since the Middle Age, a cake in the shape of a donut, filled with raisins, has been prepared in Lucca.
The meeting between the two cultures would have taken place precisely in the Middle Age, with the arrival in Palermo of a community from Lucca, which spread its recipe in Sicily. Naturally, in Sicily buccellati cookies underwent the Arab influence and were enriched with new ingredients, such as cedars, oranges, almonds, dried figs, and cinnamon. The result is our current buccellati recipe: a real delicacy!
Traditional buccellati recipe
Let’s start to prepare our buccellati cookies.
Ingredients for the shortcrust pastry:
- 1 kg of flour 00
- 250 g of lard
- 350 g of sugar
- 10 g of ammonia for sweets
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp of baking powder
- 150 ml of milk
- citrus essence
Ingredients for the filling:
- 100 g of nuts
- 100 g of pistachios
- 100 g of almonds
- 100 g of hazelnuts
- 1 tablespoon of cinnamon powder
- 70 g of bitter cocoa powder
- 250 g of dark chocolate
- 120 g of candied orange peel
- 120 g of candied citron peel
- 250 g of orange marmalade
- 250 g of fig jam
Ingredients for the glaze (optional):
- 250 g of powdered sugar
- 1 egg white
- 1 lemon juice
Ingredients for the topping:
- Candied cherries
- Candied orange peel
- Coloured sprinkles
Instruction for buccelati cookies:
For the shortcrust pastry: in a large bowl (or in the mixer), mix the lard with the sugar, add the flour already sifted with the yeast, mix and add the eggs, the essence, the ammonia previously dissolved in the milk. Mix everything to obtain a smooth dough, form a loaf, wrap with plastic wrap and let it rest in the refrigerator for at least an hour. This will be the external part of our buccellati cookies.
For the filling of buccellati cookies: in a blender, pour the dried fruit and blend, chop finely but do not sprinkle it, finely chop the dark chocolate and the candied peel cut into small cubes of about 3-4 mm, pour everything into a bowl, add the other ingredients and mix carefully with a spoon, cover the bowl and leave to rest in the fridge for at least an hour. The filling can also be prepared the day before, the rest will make your buccellati cookies flavour even more.
Now, take the shortcrust pastry out of the fridge and leave at r.a. about 10 minutes, roll out with a rolling pin, arrange the sauce like a sausage (as shown in the photo), wrap it up to close the sauce and cut off the rest of the pastry. With a sharp knife, cut the biscuits to the size you prefer, considering that they will rise almost double during cooking.
Arrange the buccellati cookies in the baking tray lined with parchment paper and brush the surface with a beaten egg. Then bake in a preheated oven at 180 ° for about 30-40 minutes. The cookies should not be too dark, so take them out of the oven and let them cool completely on a wire rack.
For the icing: pour the previously sifted icing sugar, an egg white, a pinch of salt and the lemon juice into a bowl, blend everything with a whisk and obtain a homogeneous mixture. As soon as the buccellati cookies are completely cold, cover with the icing and coloured sprinkles. As an alternative to the glaze, brush the buccellati with the orange marmalade, rainbow sprinkles and candied cherries.
Dry the Sicilian buccellati cookies on a tray for at least a whole day before serving them or preparing packages to give as gifts, then they can be stored in a tin box for a long time.
Buccellati cookies are the sweet stars of the festive table, a must of the Sicily Christmas time and now you can prepare them too with the traditional buccellati recipe!
Behind every Sicilian desserts there is always a story to tell, there are typical ingredients of the territory that may have come to us thanks to previous dominations. There is a whole world enclosed within every single bite, traditions that are handed down from generation to generation. This is just one of the many typical Sicilian sweets, there are many others to discover and savour such as Sicilian almond cookies, which you can taste during any of our tours.
We hope you have enjoyed our buccellati recipe! Let us know if you try them!