I am very excited about today’s recipe. I am taking you all back to Sicily for this Regional Italian dish… a very special one. These are among my favourite Sicilian pastries. They are not as famous as cannoli, but they are just as delicious. The filling is in fact the same sweet ricotta filling of cannoli, but they are made with soft home-made buns which are dipped in syrup and rolled in granulated sugar to make them look like peaches (thus the name “pesche”). Now, I think I owe you some explanations. First of all, there are other “sweet pesche” in Italy, but they are quite different to these. The Sicilian version is much bigger, it’s made with buns and filled with ricotta, while the other “pesche” are smaller, made with a more cookie-like dough and are often filled with crema pasticcera. So they look similar, but do taste different. Second, these are big pastries… and we often share 1 per couple, especially if eaten after a meal. Everything is big in Sicily… as people tend to eat quite a bit. So do not expect small “French-looking delicate pastries”. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with eating a full one, but I thought I’d tell you, so you don’t go about making a triple batch if you are making this for a family of 4. ;-P These pastries are not hard to make, but they do involve a little bit of work to get all the components ready… that said, I love the expression of my guests when they set their eyes on them for the first time. Totally worth the effort! 😉 They are traditionally made with Alchermes syrup. Alchermes is an Italian liquor, red in colour, that is often used to make desserts. If you cannot find any where you live, substitute it with rum and add some red food colouring to it to get the same “peach-look”. Hope you like them!! Enjoy!
Pesche Dolci alla Siciliana
Pesche Dolci alla Siciliana - the recipe for delicious Sicilian pastries that look like peaches and are filled with sweet ricotta and chocolate!
- 250 – 0.5 lb. flour
- 125 ml – ½ cup lukewarm water
- 25 gms – 0.9 oz. lard
- 25 gms – 0.9 oz. sugar
- 5 gms – ¾ tsp salt
- 5 gms – 2 tsp dry yeast
- 350 gms – ¾ lbs. ricotta
- 210 gms – o.45 oz. granulated sugar
- 35 gms – 1.25 oz. dark chocolate chips
- 1/2 tsp vanilla essence optional
- 1 pinch salt
- 40 gms – 1.4 oz. water
- 35 gms – 1.25 oz. sugar
- 40 gms – 1.4 oz. Alchermes
- Red food colouring optional
- Granulated sugar
- Mint leaves
Dissolve the yeast in the lukewarm water together with 1 tbsp of the sugar. Set it aside to activate.
In the meantime, put the remaining sugar, flour, salt and lard in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Once the yeast and water mixture has become frothy, add it to the bowl. Knead well until you obtain a smooth and pliable dough. Let it rise for 1 hour or until it doubles in size.
Divide the dough in smaller balls about the size of a mandarin (4 to 5 cm – 1.5 to 2 inches). Put them on a baking tray covered with baking paper. Press the top gently with your hands so they are not too round (remember each of these will be one side of your peach).
Bake in a pre heated oven at 200°C – 390°F for 7 – 8 minutes, or until golden.
This is the same filling we use for cannoli. You can find out how to make it here.
To make the Alchermes Syrup, mix the water and sugar in a small pot and put it on the fire. When it boils, put the fire off, add the Alchermes and let the syrup come back to room temperature.
When everything is cold, you can assemble your pastries.
Using a sharp small knife, dig a little hole on the flat side of each bun.
Dip the buns in the Alchermes syrup so they are evenly coloured.
Fill the hole with the sweet ricotta mixture, making sure some of the filling comes out (see picture)… be generous!
“Attach” the 2 buns and roll the “peaches” in granulated sugar.
If you cannot find Alchermes, which is red, you can use Rum and add some red food colouring to it… it won’t taste exactly the same, but it will still taste good and look great!