Virgin’s Breasts in Palermo    

   

Cassatine del Monastero di Santa Maria delle Vergini  

 Minni di Vergine a Palermo 

 

 

The monastery of Santa Maria delle Vergini, which had a retail shop in the back of the convent in Piazza Venezia, was famous for minni di virgini filled with egg less custard combined with a sweet squash preserve. 

    

Minni di vergine for modesty and finesse were called cassatine by the nuns: they are round pastries in the shape of a small breast, with an outer layer of pasta frolla (shortbread dough) and on the inside a combination of creams flavored with pleasant spices.   

 

The nuns made two varieties of cassatine: one stuffed with ricotta cream and one type with a combination of eggless custard and a preserve preferably pumpkin or preserved fruits prepared in the convent. The baked virgins’ breasts filled with ricotta cream were covered with a light icing, usually white, sometimes in exciting colors and decorated with a cherry to symbolize the nipple; the minni di vergine filled  with eggless cream were sprinkled with powdered sugar.

  

Makes 8 to 10 Cassatine
 

Pasta Frolla for the Shells 

Ingredients 

 

· 1 lb. all purpose flour (4 cups+1 tablespoon ) 

· ½ lb. granulated sugar (1 cup) 

· ½ lb. sweet butter at room temperature (1 cup or 2 sticks) 

· 1 tablespoon of honey 

· 5 medium egg yolks, lightly beaten 

· grated rinds from 1 lemon 

· ½ teaspoon of baking powder 

· pinch of salt 

· ¼ of a cup all purpose flour extra 

  

PREPARATION 



Mound flour on a flat surface and form a well or place into a bowl. Add the sugar, butter, eggs, salt, honey and zest of a half of the lemon.  
Use your hands and mix it until it will shape into coarse crumbs of diverse sizes.
Knead and bring the mixture together to form a ball. Fold and press with the palm of your hands; if dough is sticky, add some more flour, if it is too dry add a few tablespoons of water, to moisten it.
Do not over mix. Do not handle dough more than necessary.
Form dough into a single mass and cover with a clean kitchen rag or with plastic wrap. Refrigerate dough from 30 minutes to 1 hour. 

  

The Cassatine
Divide dough in 2 pieces and kneads briefly to compact; on a well floured working surface, roll out one piece to 3/8 of an inch thick. Using a round cutter (or the rim of a glass) 3 inches across, cut
 8 to 10 circles and set on a floured pan.
Knead the other piece of dough with any scrapes, compact it and roll it out 3/8 of inch thick. Using a round cutter (or the rim of a glass) 3 inches across cut
 8 to 10 
circles and set on a floured pan. 
Set leftover scraps on the side.

 

 

 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and grease a baking sheet or line it with parchment paper. 
Brush half of the disks with the egg wash; place in the center of each the stuffing. Cover each with another disk and press all around to seal. 

 

 

Minni di Vergine with Ricotta Cream 

 

Make half of the recipe of Ricotta Cream. (See recipe)  

·          Chocolate shavings 

·          Diced candied citron 

·          1 tablespoon of sugar flavored with a generous pinch of cinnamon and a pinch of ground ginger 

·          Egg whites 

 

 

Place in the center of each disk a full teaspoon of ricotta cream, a few pieces of diced candied citron, some chocolate shavings and a pinch of flavored sugar.
Cover each pastry with another disk and press all around to seal. 

 

Place each pastry onto a greased baking sheet 2 inches apart and as you transfer them, with your cupped hands, try to shape into a semi sphere with a culminating point, resembling a little breast.
Brush with beaten with egg whites.
Bake the pastries at 375 for 15 to 20 minutes or until they are a golden color
Place pastries on a clean baking pan.

 

Prepare a lemon flavored glace. (See recipe)
Use a brush or deep into glaze to cover each pastry. Garnish each minna di virgini with a half of a candied cherry and place on a small paper doily or a small serving dish.  

Keep refrigerate and bring to room temperature before serving. 

 

 

Minni di Vergine with Eggless Cream (“Bianco Mangiare”) 


Make half of the recipe of Biancomangiare. (See recipe)  

·          8 oz. of pumpkin preserve or your preferred preserve 

·          Diced candied citron 

·          1 tablespoon of sugar flavored with a generous pinch of cinnamon, a grating of nutmeg and 1 ground clove

·          Egg whites 

 

Place in the center of each disk a teaspoon of cream and just under a teaspoon of pumpkin preserve. Sprinkle a few pieces of diced candied citron and a pinch of flavored sugar.Cover each pastry with another disk and press all around to seal.
Place each pastry onto a greased baking sheet 2 inches apart and as you transfer them, with your cupped hands, try to shape into a semi sphere with a culminating point, resembling a little breast.
Brush with beaten with egg whites.
Use the left over scrapes to crown the top of each minna di virgini with a piece of dough, the size and the shape of a cherry.
Bake the pastries at 375 for 15 to 20 minutes or until they are a golden color. 

 


Serve at room temperature, sprinkled with powdered sugar.