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Impossible to resist the Messina pignolata: here’s how to prepare it with the original recipe

Glazed pignolata from Messina

The Sicilian pignolata, made delicious by the chocolate and lemon glaze, is a typical dish prepared especially for Carnival and Christmas.

Sicilian pignolata is a typical regional recipe that takes its cue from pignolata with honey , typical of Calabria (and very similar to Neapolitan struffoli ). The base is the same, a sort of sweet fried dumpling , but the topping changes. The pignolata with the Messina recipe is covered with two different glazes , one with dark chocolate and one white flavored with lemon.

Immediately at first glance, the difference between these two recipes emerges, both initially prepared only for the Carnival and then also during the Christmas holidays. Let's find out the recipe for this typical dessert , called pignoccata in the local dialect.

Glazed pignolata from Messina
Glazed pignolata from Messina

How to prepare the Messina pignolata with the original recipe

  1. To prepare the pignolata, start with the dough. Put the flour , the soft butter cut into chunks, the salt , the lemon zest , the grappa , the sugar , 2 whole eggs and 1 egg yolk in a bowl. Knead vigorously by hand in order to obtain a smooth and homogeneous dough, rather firm. Wrap it in plastic wrap and leave it in the fridge for a couple of hours.
  2. Then take portions of the dough and give it the shape of a loaf of 1 cm in diameter with your hands. With a tarot, then cut 1 cm pieces and, rolling them in your hands, give them a rounded shape.
  3. Fry them a few at a time in plenty of oil at 170°C until they are golden brown (it will take about 4 minutes).
  4. Drain them with a slotted spoon and remove the excess oil with kitchen paper.
  5. In the meantime, prepare the two glazes . For the white one, it will be sufficient to whip the remaining egg white until stiff, adding the icing sugar one spoon at a time. Finally, squeeze the lemon and add 15 g of juice.
  6. Prepare the dark chocolate glaze by simply melting the chocolate with the butter in a bain-marie.
  7. Decorate half of the balls with the white icing and the other half with the chocolate one and distribute them side by side on a tray leaving them to dry for at least 1-2 hours before serving.
Read also
The best Carnival sweets of the Italian tradition

Variants of the Carnival pignolata

There are two significant variations to the original pignolata recipe that we have proposed to you today, and both focus on the sauce.

Pignolata with honey
Pignolata with honey

– Very close to struffoli, pignolata with honey with coloring tails is very easy. The recipe for the pasta doesn't change, you just have to lightly heat a few spoonfuls of honey in a saucepan and pour it on the small pieces of fried pasta, finally finish with the tails.

– A variation of the chocolate glaze using bitter cocoa . You will need 100 g of icing sugar, 150 g of bitter cocoa powder, 50 g of butter, cinnamon to taste and water to taste. Take a saucepan and put it on the heat, then add the butter and let it melt. Add the icing sugar, the cocoa and the cinnamon, stirring constantly . To dilute it, add a few inches of water and continue stirring until you obtain a nice shiny glaze without lumps. Then use it to finish off the sweet dish.

If you like, you can decorate the pignolata with sugar sprinkles. Are you looking for other typical Sicilian recipes ? Try the Sicilian rotisserie !


We recommend keeping the pignolata for a maximum of 1-2 days , in a cool, dry place and better if under a special bell for sweets.

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