The Sicilian chocolate and ricotta pastries (minne di sant’agata). These Sicilian pastries come from the city of Catania, where every year in February there is a huge, ancient festival to celebrate their patron saint: Saint Agatha.
These delicate pastries, known as minne or cassatelle (minnuzzi or cassateddi in dialect), are dedicated to the young saint and are therefore shaped like breasts (Saint Agatha’s legend describes her being tortured by having her breasts cut off before she died).
Similar to the Sicilian cassata, minne are made with a soft shortcrust pastry that holds a ricotta and chocolate mixture—or with a liquor-soaked sponge, which is then covered entirely in pistachio marzipan, much like the cassata itself.
SERVINGS: Makes 6 Minne
For the filling and decoration:
- 1 1/4 cups (10 1/2 ounces or 300 grams) fresh ricotta (sheep milk, preferably)
- 1 1/4 cups (160 grams) confectioners’ sugar, divided
- 6 candied cherries
- 1 1/2 ounces (40 grams) dark chocolate, chopped finely (or chips)
- 1 ounce (30 grams) candied citron or orange, chopped finely
- 1 egg white (use the one leftover from making the dough)
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
For the pastry dough:
- 1/2 cup (100 grams) sugar
- 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon (125 grams) cold butter, chopped
- 2 cups (250 grams) flour
- 1 whole egg (60-gram egg or U.S. large size eggs)
- 1 egg yolk (save the white for the glaze)
Combine the ricotta with 1/4 cup (35 grams) of confectioners’ sugar and whisk until smooth. Add the chopped chocolate and candied fruit.
Cover and let rest in the fridge for about 1 hour.
Prepare the pastry dough by combining the flour and sugar. Add the butter and process in a food processor or rub together with fingers until the mixture is crumbly and the butter is distributed evenly through the mixture. Add the egg and yolk (saving the white for the glaze) and continue mixing until you have a smooth, solid and not sticky or crumbly dough. Let rest for 30 minutes in the fridge.
Preheat the oven to 375° F (180° C) . Roll out the dough on a well-floured surface until thin (about 1/10 inch or 2 to 3 millimeters at most). Fill a 6 half-sphere Silicone mold tray with a piece of pastry and trim evenly so it fills the sphere perfectly. Fill with the ricotta mixture right to the top, smooth over, then cover with a circle-cut out of pastry. Push down along the edges to seal the pastry (if you want to, you can brush some of the spare egg white or even a bit of water around the bottom of the circle of pastry before pressing down to help seal). Continue with the rest of the mixture and dough.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the pastry is cooked evenly and is golden.
Let the pastries cool in their mold. When cool enough to handle, carefully remove them from the mold and place on a cake rack to let them finish cooling. In the meantime, whip the leftover egg white to fluffy, soft peaks.
When the pastries are completely cool, make the glaze by combining the rest of the confectioners’ sugar with the lemon juice and enough of the egg white (about 2 tablespoons—but do it bit by bit) to create a very smooth, opaque icing that runs off the spoon like pancake batter.
Place the pastries on a cake rack set over a tray or a chopping board. Ice the pastries by pouring a spoonful of icing at a time over the top (let it run down on its own; if some areas aren’t covered, help it along by spooning another bit of icing from the top). Allow the icing to set, then top with a candied cherry.
Your chocolate and ricotta pastries can now be served.