Sfingi-Minni di Vergine – Cassatine Bakeries’ Style  


In Sicilian pastry shops, the breasts of virgin, for modesty, are also called by the master bakers with other names and offered baked or fried, stuffed with a variety of fillings, including ricotta or custard cream, egg less custard, pumpkin preserve, marmalades and enriched with chocolate, zuccata (candied pumpkin), candied citron, orange peels, pistachio, almonds and flavored with cinnamon, cloves, orange or lemon zest, ginger and vanilla. 

On the western part of Sicily, the fried version of the minni di vergine are called sfingi, and made for Saint Joseph, San Giuseppe on March 19th .


In general, the baked versions, available all year, has an outer layer of pasta frolla (shortbread dough) or brioche dough and with some imagination in the shape of a breast, stuffed with custard or ricotta cream or preserves. They are called cassatine, Genovesi, minni di vergine and in Catania Breasts of Saint Agatha. 


The Recipes of Cassatine made in Pasty Shops: 


Sfingi di San Giuseppe 

Cassatine with almond paste 

Genovesi -Cassatine with a variety of creams 

Breasts of Saint Agatha   


Sfingi di San Giuseppe: the most famous. They are stuffed and covered with ricotta cream, topped with a cherry intended for the nipple, and called Sfinge di San Giuseppe, Saint Joseph Pasty to celebrate the Patron Saint of the workers. They are baked in pastry shops and at one time also by the nuns in some convents. 



Cassatine with almond paste are popular pasties available all year around in Sicily and where Sicilian people are living. They are made like a small cassata, with pieces of sponge cake, stuffed with ricotta cream, surrounded by green almond paste (pasta reale), coated with lemon icing and decorated with a candied cherry, to resemble a breast. 




Genovesi: These delicious pasties are another spin-off of the breast of virgin, originally were baked or fried. The original recipe made with bread dough and stuffed with ricotta, honey and spices, has been slightly changed and the modern versions are made with pasta frolla, short dough, to give to these pastries the present characteristics of lightness and a distinctive taste very pleasant to the palate. 

They are shaped in semicircle like a turnover and garnished with powdered sugar. 


Cassatine with a variety of creams or preserves are a delicious snack or dessert baked all over Sicily. 

These pastries round shaped pasties are made with two circles of crunchy dough and stuffed with a variety of fillings which varies as a result of local and available supplies: ricotta cream in the western part of Sicily, marmalades with honey combination in the eastern part, in addition to preserved fruits, vanilla and chocolate custard or a combinations of the above fillings. 


Breasts of Saint Agatha   

The Saint Agatha Breasts are made exclusively in Catania. The outer layer is a delicate blend of pasta frolla (shortbread dough) shaped In the form of breast and stuffed with custard or ricotta cream, zuccata and diced almonds. They are baked and if stuffed with custard are covered with a pink icing and topped with half candied cherry, if filled with ricotta cream they are covered with white icing and crowned with a chocolate chip.  


Custard filledRicotta filling