Marsala is a town located in western tip of Sicily. The region is rich of history and historical sites:
Roman baths, pagan and Christian temples, necropolis and other sign of ancient times and more recent
small island of Mozia is located almost in the center of the nearby lagoon; it was a stop
for Phoenicians, Carthaginians and Roman traders and at that time, an important commercial and shipping center.
The Whitaker Foundation, which owns Mozia has restored the ancient salt pans and windmills for the production
and grinding of the salt, and a museum was set up in the villa Mozia, where Mozia, Egyptian, Greek, Corinthian,
Phoenician, Carthaginian and Roman artifacts are displayed.
largest economical resources in Marsala are wine production, hospitality business and the fishing
encircled by natural salt pans, vineyards and olive trees; there are mills for grounding salt, fisheries and
important wineries where the famous Marsala wine and large quantities of quality red and white wines
many beautiful beaches and the climate have favored the local tourism and the hotel industry.
“La Mattanza del Tonno”, tuna fishing, is practiced in the traditional way; a variety of fish and in
particular tuna are cooked in many inventive ways, pasta is seasoned with bottarga, salted tuna row, local fresh
lobsters cooked in light tomato sauce are a delicacy and their sauce over spaghettini is a gourmand delight.
Eggplants, tomatoes, peppers, capers, garlic, herbs and salted anchovies, fresh sardines and other fish are evolved
into special pasta dishes or into typical main courses. However a simple dish of pasta with olive oil, basil and
garlic or freshly baked Marsalese bread “pane cunzatu”, drizzled with
local olive oil, herbs, salt and spices can be an unforgettable fragrant and tasting experience.
Berber dish, the couscous prepared in Morocco with the mutton or vegetables, in Marsala is
cooked with fish, abundant in the area and the use of different spices creates a completely incomparable and
ricotta produced in Marsala gives an inimitable characteristic to Sicilian pastries and cakes made
with ricotta cream; cookies and biscuits are baked with traditional recipes; cannoli, cassate, “cappidduzzi” - a dessert similar to thecassateddi turnover- have a
distinctive and unique taste. A delicate and exquisite delicacy, the original spagnolette are ricotta cream
pastries: they are made by sandwiching the cream between two round savoiardi biscuits.
make the savoiardi use the recipe that Mrs. Bernadette Johnson kindly shared with us; another version of the
spagnolette is prepared using pasta frolla, Italian style shortbread stuffed with the same filling.
recipes will follow; I prefer the original recipe made with the savoiardi biscuits.
Makes 40 to 50 Savoiardi Biscuits or 20 to 25 Spagnolette
THE SAVOIARDI SHELL
large eggs at room temperature
cups sugar (1lb.)
½ cups of flour(1lb.)
THE FILLING FOR ABOUT 20
1 lb. of
4 tablespoons of
zest of 1
1 drop of cinnamon
1 drop of vanilla
¼ cup of chocolate chips or
½ cup powdered
½ teaspoon of powder
THE FILLING FOR ABOUT 20 PIECES
of time, in a large bowl, mix well the ricotta and sugar until smooth. Blend in the zest of orange, cinnamon oil
and the vanilla, store in the refrigerator for a few hours. Before
using it, mix the ricotta cream with a wooden spoon to aerate and make it silky-smooth, and add the chocolate
chips or the chocolate shavings over it.
Beat the eggs
and the sugar at low speed for 15 minutes, to thoroughly blend the eggs; then add the flour in 1/2 cup
increments, with a few minutes between increments while beating continuously.
tablespoons of the mixture on a wax paper lined cookie sheet two inches apart, and bake at 350 for 10 to 12
Move cookies to
a wire rack to cool.
tablespoon of ricotta cream onto a cookie and top it with another cookie to form a sandwich. Press them gently
so that some of the ricotta cream seeps out a little.
Smooth out the
edge with a spatula, remove any extra cream. Place into a serving dish.
you finish either the cookies or the filling: any leftover ricotta cream can be used to spread on toasts to make
a delicious snack, or you can enjoy the plain cookies as a unique breakfast.
Mix the powdered
sugar and cinnamon and garnish by sprinkling the spagnolette with it.
The “Spagnolette” are a
specialty dessert originated in the town of Marsala
and there is no
better paring than a Marsala Superiore, a unique wine with a full-bodied taste and an attractive
THE PASTA FROLLA FOR THE SPAGNOLETTE
1 lb. all purpose flour. About 5
7 oz. or 1 cup sugar less 1
½ lb. or 1 cup unsalted butter
1 teaspoon baking
zest of one
Make a well with the
flour, place in it the sugar, butter, eggs, salt, baking powder, and lemon zest. Mix all ingredients
using your hands, knead to bring dough together. If mixture is too dry add a few tablespoons of water, if too
watery add some flour.
Do not over mix. Do not handle dough more than necessary. Refrigerate dough for 1
Prepare some cookie sheets by lightly greasing
them and pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
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 1/8 of an
inch thick. Use a 3 1/4” to 4” round fluted biscuit cutter to get circles or if a cutter is not available, use the
rim of a glass to make circles about 3 ½” wide.
Spoon out and place in the
center 1 scant
tablespoon of ricotta cream and top it with another circle to form a sandwich.
Press down all
around with the prongs of a fork to make sure they are properly sealed to avoid the filling from
Place the pastries
in the baking sheet pan(s) 1 inch apart and bake
until lightly golden, at 375 for 10 to 15 minutes.
Garnish the “Spagnolette” by sprinkling powdered sugar on top and
serve warm or at room temperature.