Friday, June 21 2024

A full 271 years have passed since the creation of the first Pasticciotto Leccese, and its success is far from tarnished: in fact, today the city of Lecce has recognized it as a typical dessert and it is on the national list of traditional food products drawn up by the “Ministry of Agricultural Food and Forestry Policies.”

It is a small oval-shaped cake, made of shortcrust pastry with a custard filling, which the people of Salento are used to eat hot, freshly baked, for breakfast.


The history of Pasticciotto Leccese began in 1745 in a small town in the province, and more specifically in Galatina: this is where the pastry shop of the Ascalone family was established, which is still located in its old premises on Via Vittorio Emanuele II.

During the feast of St. Paul’s Day, Nicola Ascalone is immersed in his own problems: he is looking for a way to turn around the fortunes of the pastry shop, which is sailing in bad waters as a result of various debts.

He has only a bit of dough and some custard on hand, and he knows full well that this is not enough to make a cake, but he decides anyway to put the dough in a small copper mold and fill it with cream.

Ascalone calls it “bocconotto” and gives it to a passerby freshly baked: the “bocconotto” is so good that the passerby wants to buy more to take to his family.

The dessert is excellent and word of mouth does the rest; it is an immediate success throughout the province, from where numerous visitors come just to taste it, and thus “Pasticciotto de Lu Scalone” is born.

It is said that Pope Wojtyla, during his pastoral trip to Apulia, visited the Ascalone pastry shop and enjoyed the Pasticciotto Leccese so much that he had it delivered several times a week for breakfast in the years to follow.

Pasticciotto Leccese was brought to Brindisi in the very early hours of the morning and from there took the 6 a.m. flight to arrive in Vatican City in time for the Holy Father’s breakfast.

Whether it is true or not, Pasticciotto Leccese has won over a little of everyone because of the authenticity of its ingredients and its exquisite flavor, and today in addition to the original version it can be enjoyed in many variations: we have the orange-scented pasticciotto, the pasticciotto filled with custard and black cherry jam, the pasticciotto filled with chocolate cream and also the black pasticciotto with cocoa shortcrust pastry, filled with custard, chocolate cream or that of gianduia, all enriched with tasty pieces of dark chocolate.

 

 

 

Makes about  12 to 16 Pasticciotti

INGREDIENTS:

For the shortcrust pastry:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) cold butter
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • A pinch of salt

For the pastry cream:

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the filling:

  • Amarena cherries in syrup, as needed (Sour Cherry)

 

METHOD:

  1. Preparing the shortcrust pastry:

    • In a large bowl, sift the flour and add confectioners’ sugar, salt, and lemon zest.
    • Cut the cold butter into small cubes and add it to the flour mixture. Quickly work with your hands until you get a sandy texture.
    • Add the egg and knead until a smooth dough forms. Wrap it in plastic wrap and let it rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Preparing the pastry cream:

    • In a saucepan, heat the milk with lemon zest and vanilla extract until it starts to boil. Remove from heat and let it cool slightly.
    • In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks with sugar until frothy.
    • Add cornstarch to the egg and sugar mixture, stirring well until smooth and homogeneous.
    • Pour the warm milk slowly into the egg mixture, stirring constantly to prevent lumps from forming.
    • Transfer the mixture back to the saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the cream thickens.
    • Once ready, transfer the pastry cream to a bowl, cover it with plastic wrap touching the surface, and let it cool completely.
  3. Assembly:

    • Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).

    • Roll out the chilled shortcrust pastry on a lightly floured surface until it’s about 1/8 inch thick.

    • Use a round cookie cutter to cut out pastry discs and line them in buttered and floured pastry molds.

    • Fill each mold with the prepared pastry cream, filling them about 3/4 full.

    • Add a few Amarena cherries in syrup to the center of each pasticciotto.

    • With the remaining pastry dough, create thin strips and place them in a lattice pattern over the pasticciotti.

    • Bake the pasticciotti in the preheated oven for about 25-30 minutes, or until the surface is golden brown.

    • Once baked, remove the pasticciotti from the oven and let them cool completely before serving.

 

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