Biscotti con Frutta Secca
In the pre-Christian era,
the Romans offered to their gods the “nux gatum” a nut cake made with
honey, flour, almonds, pistachio or other kind of nuts.
In Sicily, during the
Christmas season, the nux gatum are made with the same
ingredients however dry fruits and the skin of citrus fruits are added and they are called nucatolu.
The word nougat,
(torrone) also derives from nux gatum, the nut cake, the Occitan
called pan nugat.
Occitan are people
speaking a Latin dialect; they occupy parts of the southern part of Europe, and particularly the area of
Catalonia in Spain, parts of La Provence in France, and in Italy in the area now known as Piedmont,
and Liguria and the town of Guardia Piemontese, in Calabria.
This Christmas cookie,
the nucatoli is prepared in the province of Ragusa and the
Southern- Eastern part of the Island; Modica claims conceiving this enjoyable, delicious sweet cookie, however
it is made with variances in other parts of Sicily.
In Vittoria the nucatoli are available all year around in bakeries and they are called
- 2 ½ cups of
- 1 stick of sweet butter (4 oz.)
melted but not hot
- 1 medium
- 1 yolk
- 3 tablespoons of
- pinch of
- cold water if
- skin of 2 oranges
- skin of 1
- 1 tablespoon of
- ½ lb. of dry figs stemmed and
- ½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon
- ½ lb. of lightly toasted almonds
or pistachios, finely diced
- ½ cup of
Prepare the orange and lemon peels for the
filling: rinse with cold water, dry and bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes. When cooled, cut them with scissors
into thin strips and finely dice.
In a medium size, pot without a cover, at a medium heat
place the diced orange and lemon peels, one tablespoon of water and one tablespoon of sugar; bring to a boil and
mix into the figs, almonds (or pistachios), cinnamon and fold the honey into it.
Simmer at a very low heat, stirring continuously. Do not
Filling is ready when it comes off from the side and it
forms into a mass; about 5 minutes.
If mixture is too thick,add extra honey, a little at a time, until the right consistency is obtained;
in fact mixture should be
thickenough to make it possible to shape it into the size
of a small breadsticks, to fill the nucatoli.
Transfer into a bowl to cool, and use at room temperature
or cover tightly with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator, up
to 3 days; when ready to use bring the filling at room temperature.
Lightly whisk egg and
Combine the flour with the butter, salt and the eggs. Add the
honey, mix thoroughly and
bring the dough together to form a ball. If the dough is to dry, add a few drops of water to moisten.
Fold and press with the palm of your hands; if dough is sticky, add some more flour. Do not over
When dough forms into a single mass, cover with a kitchen rag or plastic wrap, set aside, and refrigerate for at
least 30 minutes.
Prepare some cookie sheets by lightly greasing and pre-heat
oven to 375 degrees.
Retrieve dough from refrigerator, dust working surface with
a little flour and place the dough in the center; fold and press with the palm of your hands a few times and with
the help of a rolling pin, flatten the pastry dough to about less than 1/8 of an inch thick. Use a scalloped edge
pastry wheel and cut dough into 2 ½” X 6” rectangles.
Spoon out and place lengthwise some filling in the center of each strip, 1 tablespoon or more, shaped like
a breadstick, leaving clear at least ¾” on each side.
Fold the 6” sides to enclose only the sides of the filling
and leave open the top showing the dry fruits and honey mixture, the nucatuli.
into cookie sheets or
greased pans 2 inches apart and shape the nucatuli into an “S”
Bake until lightly golden, at 375
degrees for about 20 minutes.
Transfer to a cooling rack and store
in airtight containers.
Serve at room
In Bronte, the"NACATULI
BRUNTISI" are prepared with pistachios.