Program Title: Sicily and Its Sweets
Speaker: Nick Malgieri
Date: March 10, 2014
Location: Institute of Culinary Education

Pastry chef Nick Malgieri has traveled widely throughout Sicily, ferreting out traditional recipes and the stories behind them. Sicily was one of the first places in Europe to develop the art of confectionery, a result of the Saracens’ domination, beginning in the 9th century, and their introduction of refined sugar. Many of these early sweets still survive, including cannoli, called qanânît in the medieval Arabic texts; candied fruits and even vegetables; and sweets based on almonds and pistachios. After the expulsion of the Arab rulers, much of the sweet history of Sicily was preserved in monastic bakeries. Another change took place in the 19th century, when Swiss confectioners arrived in Sicily, bringing with them up-to-date techniques of preparation and the important addition of chocolate to the list of sweet ingredients. While noting all of these important historical events that changed Sicilian confectionary, Malgieri was able to give the personal stories behind the pastry makers who are still maintaining these traditions.

Today a handful survive of the over one hundred monasteries and convents that each once had a sweet specialty.Malgieri prepared an array of typical sweets: buccellato, fig-filled pastry; infasciadedde, Sicilian twisted cookies; and pasticiotti di crema, custard-filled tartlets.