Why these traditional Sicilian sweets are the best

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This is a featured post by Hanna Johnson.

Hanna is a writer. She loves travel, food, art and culture! Italy is her favorite destination.


Sicily is known for its beautiful land, diverse history, mixed culture, and divine cuisine! In every place I have been to in the island, there was always something to feed the senses. Being a lover of everything sweet, I indulged myself with the many pastries and sweet delights they are famous for. Enter a pastry shop and you will surely find a lavish display of everything nice and sweet, you wouldn’t know which to purchase! Here’s my list of the best traditional Sicilian sweets, in my own opinion. You might want to try them and judge for yourself. I recommend wishsicily website for the best holiday to Sicily if you plan to visit it.

Cassata

Cassata Siciliana - photo by fugzu
Cassata Siciliana – photo by fugzu

Due to influences of Arab culture in Sicily, this delightfully tempting sweet cake evolved and conquered the hearts of many locals and tourists. Traditionally a winter to spring delicacy, it is served around Easter and is possibly the most famous sweet in Sicily. This round sponge cake is moistened with liqueur or fruit juices and is layered with ricotta, candied peel and a filling similar to that of cannoli cream and covered in marzipan with toppings of candied fruit. If you happen to be in Palermo, drop by Pasticceria Cappello. I just literally went nuts when I saw the array of sweets on display. You might also want to try their famous setteveli.

Cannolo

Cannoli - photo by Bonnie Natko
Cannoli – photo by Bonnie Natko

This is definitely one sweet temptation you can’t possibly resist! When I was in Messina, I passed by Pasticceria Saccà and got lost in the rich dessert. As I bit into the tube-like shell casing, all the wonderful flavors of creamy ricotta cheese and candied fruit or dark chocolate bits invaded my senses! I definitely bought another one!

Granita

Granita & brioche - photo by evin Phua
Granita & brioche – photo by Kevin Phua

Sicily can be hot in summer and one of their most popular ways to cool down is to indulge on a serving of granita, with a brioche on the side for breakfast! At first I dismissed it as just flavored crushed ice but I noticed that a lot of locals and tourists seem to love them. In my curiosity, I decided to try one and boy, was I so wrong in my initial impression! Granita varies in every city. Visit Bar Condorelli in Acireale, Catania and try their granita alla mandorla. In Messina, it’s a must to visit Pasticceria Irrera. Nevertheless, there are a lot of shops across Sicily that offer good quality granita.

Gelato

Brioche con gelato - photo by Paolo Zucchi
Brioche con gelato – photo by Paolo Zacchi

Everywhere in Sicily, or in Italy, for that matter, there are gelato shops in almost every corner. This is one of the most-loved summer treats and I have become a fan especially after visiting Sicily. I loved the many different flavors, from fruity goodness to creamy chocolate; I loved tasting almost every flavor. Never mind the calories when it’s sweltering hot and all you need is a nice serving of gelato. If you’re around Ragusa, you might be curious enough to try the olive oil and wine-flavored gelati of Gelati DiVini. Or head to a shop with the artigianale

Frutta di Martorana

Frutta di Martorana (Taormina) - photo by Gabriella Alu'
Frutta di Martorana (Taormina) – photo by Gabriella Alu’

These are marzipan sweets and you will find them in forms of fruits and vegetables. I was so amazed the first time I saw them on display in a pastry shop that it got me curious to ask about them. I was told that they are made of marzipan paste of ground almonds, sugar, corn syrup, and lemon juice and molded into any form. In Taormina, I decided to try some and was delighted with the taste and texture that I decided to bring home some as gifts.

Torrone

Torrone - photo by Alberto
Torrone – photo by Alberto

This is a confection made of almonds, egg white, honey, and sugar. The more honey is used, the softer it is. It is known to be the oldest confection made in the whole of Sicily, dating back to the ancient Greeks. In Erice, you can find traditional ones in Maria Grammatico’s pastry shop. She makes them with both almonds and pistachios. You will enjoy without doubt.

While you are on your discovery of Sicilian sweets, try to be adventurous and taste the many others and let me know some of your favorites.

 


Featured photo by neekoh.fi

One thought on “Why these traditional Sicilian sweets are the best

  1. There are so many wonderful things in Sicily for those of us with a sweettooth but my favourite is cannoli. I first tried it on mainland Italy and didn’t really like it but when I then tried it freshly made in Sicily it was so very, very good.

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