Sweet & Pastries Culture
In Sardinian tradition the ancient art of producing sweets and pastries has always been almost exclusively the preserve of the women of the house.
In the past, an extraordinary variety of shapes, scents and flavours emerged from the skilled hands of the housewives to mark feast days such as Carnival, Easter and All Saints’ Day, not forgetting Christmas, baptism celebrations, confirmations and weddings: each event had to be celebrated with its own particular kind of sweets or pastries.
Today, a flourishing artisan production ensures that this tradition is kept alive. The same ingredients as in the past are used: they are staples of the local agricultural tradition such as honey, almonds, walnuts, eggs, cheese, milk, flour, but also fresh and dried fruit and saba or sapa, a delicious dense syrup obtained by the long simmering of grape must.
The range of these Sardinian sweets is surprising, from the extra light, slightly crunchy pirichitus, made with refined flour, eggs, sugar and lemon, to the bianchitus, a type of meringue prepared with beaten egg white, sugar and sweet chopped almonds.
The famous soft amarettus with their slightly bitter flavour are prepared by mixing sweet and bitter almonds, sugar and eggs. Amongst the most sought-after specialities are also the pardulas or casadinas, consisting of a pasta shell with a soft filling of ricotta or fresh cheese, eggs, sugar and saffron. The pleasantly scented aranzada is a sweet from the Nuoro area, made of orange peel and almonds candied in honey.
Other examples are the candelaus, enticing sweets made of almond paste, sugar and orange blossom water; the sospiri di Ozieri, small spheres of almond paste wrapped in coloured tissue paper, the copulette; the gueffus; the sweets of Oliena; and again the pistoccus of Serrenti; the mustazzolus probably of Arab origin, typical of the area round Oristano; the coccois de saba; the gattò made of caramel sugar and almonds; the famous sebadas, flat pastry shells with a fresh cheese filling, fried and served with a dribble of honey or a sprinkle of sugar. And finally, the Torrone (nougat) from Tonara and Desulo prepared with almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, egg white and honey, sold by street stalls at the many folk festivals celebrated on the island.
Amaretto: Amerettos de Mendula
Compared to traditional amaretti, Sardinian ones differ in their soft texture. They are traditionally prepared with sweet almonds and bitter almonds; the other ingredients are sugar, egg white and lemon zest. They are made in various shapes but mostly oval and during special festivals.
Anicini: Anicinus, Anicinus Sorresus
For important occasions they covered with white icing, or decorated with a zigzag pattern. In Montiferru, they were prepared using the yolk of the eggs used in the recipe of bianchini or amaretti. The anicino is a dry biscuit of elongated or rhomboidal shape. The ingredients are wheat flour, eggs, sugar, lard, baking powder, anise liqueur and wild fennel seeds.
Made particularly in the province of Nuoro, it is a cake made of candied orange in honey and almonds, portioned into small diamond-shaped pieces with a chewy texture.
Dolci Sardi e Pasta Fresca – Arzachena
Bianchittos: Marigosos, Bianchini, Suspiros, Bianchinus, Biancheddus:
The origins of this cake are to be found in the horse area of the Alps. It is an irregular pyramidal shape, white, crumbly, sometimes garnished with almonds and coloured little devils. They are prepared by mounting egg whites with sugar on the snow, cold, adding the almonds by hand (toasted and cut into thin strips) and grated lemon rind.
Biscotto Di Fonni: Savoiardo, Pistoccu, soft Savoiardone
This biscuit is associated with the town of Fonni and has a soft and crumbly, golden colour and shape – similar to that of the classic “savoiardi” biscuits. The ingredients are eggs, flour and sugar. The manufacturing steps provide for the processing, casting, sugaring and then baking.
Brugnolusu De arrescotu: Brugnoli di ricotta, Orrubioloso
This is a typical fried product in the Sardinian gastronomic tradition, known since the beginning of the last century. They are prepared with ricotta cheese or cream cheese, granulated sugar, white flour durum wheat semolina, Sardinian brandy, whole eggs and two yolks, sweet vanilla, grated rind of orange or lemon, Sardinian saffron, a pinch of salt.
Carapigna Astrore: Aritzo and Tuili
Carapigna is a sorbet that in ancient times took the place of ice cream. A very ancient Sardinian invention that dates back to 1600, and seems to have originated in Aritzo, in the province of Nuoro. Now days, is made in particular in the area of Tuili, it is a dish prepared with a lemon syrup and sugar. Technically it can be considered a sorbet, very white in colour and the characteristic consistency similar to that of fresh snow. The technology used involves refrigerating a mix of water, sugar and flavourings using a mixture of ice and salt.
Sa Carapigna Sebastiano Pranteddu
Candelaus: Candelaus prenu
Made throughout Sardinia and in particular in Campidano, it is one of the oldest sweets of Sardinia, always present at baptisms, engagements and marriages. It consists of an almond pastry, glazed, covering a soft paste of fresh almonds, cut into flakes, flavoured with orange flower water.
Caschettas: Tiliccas or Tiriccas
Made in particular in the Barbagia region, they are very ancient, dating back to the rite in honour of Saint Anthony the Abbot. Caschettas generally have the shape of a horseshoe, ellipse, crescent and heart; the outer surface is crumbly and white; the inside is straw-yellow in colour owing to the use of small quantities of saffron; the typical fragrance recalls almonds.
The Copulette is a product that must be consumed in one day and can last up to a maximum of three days. Copulette have a truncated cone shape. The filling is made with eggs, flour OO, sugar, almonds and grated rind of lemon.
Coccias de casu: Is Coccias de casu, S’azza de casu
Sweet ravioli filled with fresh goat cheese acid. The dough is made from flour, water and lard. Separately, you prepare the filling with fresh goat cheese, eggs, sugar and a little lemon. On the pastry bottom you place the filling at regular intervals and then the diamond-shaped ravioli or rounded are fried in oil or lard, dusted with sugar and served hot.
Cruxioneddu de mindua: Culungioneddos de mendula
This is a typical fried carnival cake although in the past it was prepared on the occasion of the feast of St. Joseph. They are puff pastry ravioletti, filled with almonds, of pale- yellow colour which, after frying, are covered with a slight layer of icing sugar. There are variants with cream or ricotta filling.
Culingioneddus de Melairanni
These are large ravioli, crispy outside and soft inside, rectangular, golden on the outside and yellow inside. The ingredient that characterises this cake is quince, put to boil with sugar until mixture is creamy red colour that is allowed to cool. Meanwhile the pastry is prepared (su Pillu), with flour, water and lard (oll’e proccu), thinned on the work surface, the quince mix is spread and closed; with the pastry wheel (s’arretta) you cut out the ravioli of different sizes which are then fried.
Frisjoli Longhi: Frisjolas
These cylindrical pancakes are the carnival dessert par excellence of the Gallura region. They are made with wheat flour, sugar, eggs, grated lemon and orange zest, baking powder, salt and water.
Gallettinas: Gallettinas, Pistoccheddus Grussusu
Suitable to be soaked in milk, the biscuits are oval and elongated in shape, sugary above (no icing), very crumbly light and gold with an intense lemon flavour and scent. They are obtained by mixing granulated sugar, eggs, lemon zest, vegetable lard, UHT milk, ammonia powder, OO type flour.
Gateau’: Gatto’, Cato’
This crispy cake is made with almonds, sugar and lemon. The process involves preparing the almond bits which are mixed with the dissolved sugar and the whole thing is scented with plenty of lemon. The dough is cooked in the oven in a copper kettle for 20 minutes, and then cut manually so as to obtained the characteristic shape of a rhombus. Once cooled on the bench, the sweet is put into cups.
These sweets are made with granulated sugar, almonds and lemon which are weighed, blended and then baked in the same mixer. Once cooked, the mixture is allowed to cool, and subsequently, modelled manually in order to obtain pellets that are packaged with sweetened and coloured paper.
Sospiro di Ozieri
The sospiri are sweet round cakes, frosted surface, soft inside, light coloured, made with grounded almonds, sugar, honey and lemon. There is one modern version wrapped in chocolate and flavoured with myrtle liqueur.
The Angules are produced in the municipalities of Ozieri in the Mandrolisai region. It is a round cake 15-20 cm in diameter, amber in colour and made to coincide with the Feast of Saint Nicholas. The dough ingredients are durum wheat, yeast acid and water; those of the fillings, su pisiddau are wildflower honey, water grated orange rind, coarse semolina and saffron. The filling is made by cooking everything together until you obtain a mixture with density similar to polenta.
Mandagadas: Mandegadas, Trizzas, Acciuleddi, Azzuleddhi
Spread throughout the Sardinian territory, mandagadas are typical cakes of the carnival period. The ingredients used are durum wheat, lard, eggs, water and Sardinian honey. Once you have prepared the dough and obtained the braid shape, you fry it in hot oil until it is golden in colour. Finally, they are put through boiling honey and placed in a glass or clay container.
The sweet is produced in the area of Oristano. The ingredients are: flour, natural or beer yeast (su farmentu), sugar, baking soda, lemon essence and cinnamon. After a long leaving, the dough is rolled out and cut in shape of lozenges which are baked for cooking and, once cooled are covered with the glaze.
The ingredients for this sweet are: eggs, wheat flour, lard, water, Sardinian honey. The dough provides a very thin sheet which is then cut into strips of width about 2 cm. The cake is then fried in oil and allowed to cool before being covered with honey, according to a specific procedure.
Pani ‘e Saba
This small bread is intensely fragrant and is characterised by the dark colour of the cooked wine it is made from with the addition of dried fruit, usually nuts.
The papassinos are made especially on the occasion of feast of all Saints and all Souls (November 1st and 2nd). They are produced with OO flour, raisins, sugar, fresh eggs, cooked wine (sapa), vegetable margarine, almond, milk and baking powder.
Pardulas: Formagelle, Casadinas
Pardulas are spread throughout the region. The ingredients are fresh pecorino cheese or ricotta, sugar, eggs, OO flour, semolina, vegetable margarine, lemon, yeast and salt. In the Sassari region, raising are added. Pardulas date back to the period of ancient Greece.
Pastissus: Almond Pastries
These sweets are presented as differently shaped small baskets, consisting of a thin pastry stuffed with a soft sponge cake with almonds, and a surface covered in royal icing. The ingredients are: durum wheat semolina, water, lard for the pastry, almonds, sugar, eggs, lemon, brandy, yeast and a handful of wheat for the filling.
The cake is typical of the town of Seulo (WM Tours Soul) territory. It has a rhomboid shape, small in size, coated with white icing decorated with devils. The ingredients are: OO flour, semolina, lard, eggs, water, sugar, bitter almonds, grated lemon zest, secret liqueur. The dough is worked manually, the filling is obtained by mixing the almonds with the sugar, the liqueur and lemon.
Production in the town of Seulo is done using techniques passed down from mother to daughter. Testimonies show that this cake has been prepared and served in Seulo at major festivals since the early twentieth century.
They have a round, flattened shape of 4-5 cm in diameter, covered with icing in part or entirely. They are made with wheat flour, sugar, lard, eggs, baking powder, grated lemon or orange peel and milk.
This traditional cake is made throughout Sardinia, it has a round shape and yellow straw colour. The dough is made from water, sugar, honey, durum wheat semolina, grated zest of lemon and an orange, cloves, cinnamon and sapa. In the town of Dorgali, it is a tradition to prepare pistiddu along with other typical cakes for the Feast of Saint Antony the Abbot.
Pasticceria Antiche Tradizioni Dorgali
Pistoccheddus De Cappa: Pistoccus Incappausu
Produced mainly in the areas of Middle and Lower Campidano region, this traditional sweet was prepared for the Easter celebrations. It is a hard and crispy biscuit which is golden in colour, shaped like pets, covered with decorated white icing. The pasta is made from durum wheat flour, OO flour, whole eggs and egg yolks, pork lard, rind of a lemon. For the frosting, mix sugar, egg white and lemon juice.
Pistoccusu de Nuxi
This is a typical dessert from the town of Seulo (WM Tours Soul), made with walnuts, the main ingredient, lemon, sugar and egg white. The frothy mixture obtained is divided into many small parts which are then cooked in a wood oven.
It is graced with a topping of white frosting and coloured little devils. The recipe has been passed orally from mother to daughter for generations. This cake gets its name from its main ingredient. The cultivation of walnut trees is still widespread in Seulo.
This cake is made mainly in the municipality of Siniscola and has a round and flat shape, amber colour, firm and chewy texture, and a citrusy and bitter flavour. Besides fruit, the ingredients are flower honey and, at times, syrup from water and sugar.
Sebadas: Seadas, Sebada
These consist of circular sheet of 10 cm in diameter containing a mildly soured pecorino cheese filling, flavoured with lemon peel or grated orange. Once fried, they are covered with warm honey or sugar.
Almond, Hazelnuts and Walnuts Torrone
It is made throughout Sardinia and particular in the Province of Nuoro (Tonara, Desulo, etc.) It comes in rolls of varying sizes from 100 gr to 20 kg, white, with the scent and taste of honey as well as a semi-soft and supple texture. The locally sourced ingredients are egg whites, bitter honey (strawberry tree or chestnuts) or sweet (millefiori), toasted almonds or hazelnuts or walnuts, lemon zest.
Other traditional sweets:
Despite being found almost everywhere in Sardinia, they are made in particular in the Barbagia of Belvi. They are packaged in the form of balls and encased in sheets of aluminium foil on which there are other sheets of tissue paper of different pastel colours. They are prepared with very simple ingredients like roasted nuts, honey, sugar, lemon peel and orange that are gradually mixed with water.
The moretto is produced in Vallermosa, mainly from artisanal pastry shop that holds the ancient recipe. To prepare the outer casing, you use flour, eggs and sugar; for the filling Marsala liqueur raisins, almonds, water and various spices in varying proportions. The organoleptic characteristics differ according to the crunchiness of the casing and the spicy flavour of the moist filing, provided by cinnamon and other ingredients.
Su mundu est de chie lu cheret: su chelu de chie l’alcansat.
(The world belongs to those who want it: the heaven of those who get it)