Pignolata messinese

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Pignolata messinese

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For the cookies
500 g Flour '00' type
12 Egg yolk as fresh as possible
70 ml Pure alcohol for desserts
50 g Sugar
to taste Lard for frying
For the black part
200 g Icing sugar
200 g Unsweetened cocoa
100 g Butter
Vanilla flavor
Cinnamon powder
For the white part
250 g Sugar
75 ml Water
160 g Egg whites
200 g Sugar
50 ml Water
1/2 lemon Lemon juice
Vanilla flavor
Lemon flavor

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  • For the cookies

  • For the black part

  • For the white part



Pignolata messinese (Messina’s pignolata) is one of the most beloved traditional sweets in the city. Its name comes from its distinctive pinecone shape and its origins date back a few centuries.

On the occasion of Carnival, the recipe for pignolata widespread in Sicily and Calabria was reworked and perfected with the addition of a black and white icing. This is precisely the peculiarity of a dessert of which all the people of Messina are proud, which being a “uniqueness” of the area sells very well both in Italy and abroad.

This characteristic Carnival dessert is now prepared all year round in the city of the Strait. The pignolata consists of a mound of small fried cookies made from a mixture of eggs, flour, sugar and alcohol. They are dipped for the white part in a lemon-flavored meringue sugar syrup. And for the black part in a chocolate-flavored sugar syrup.

This dessert characteristic of Messina should not be confused with the Sicilian pignolata for which is technically much more complex to make. In fact, it is customary to buy black and white pignolata in specialized bakeries rather than making it at home.

So our challenge is to provide you with a recipe that harks back to tradition but is designed to be easily replicated at home. You will prepare it with the help of a planetary or electric beater and a kitchen thermometer.

As always, if you liked the recipe, please comment! Your opinions give us the motivation we need to keep posting new recipes!

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Prepare the cookies

One of the most important steps in the preparation of pignolata is the preparation of the cookie or puff that gives softness and fragrance to the cake. It must be small and porous enough to absorb the icing.


With the planetary mixer with hook, begin mixing 10 yolks, incorporating alcohol and flour a little at a time, taking care to alternate as the alcohol would risk cooking the eggs.


Once the alcohol and all the flour are in, mix until the mixture is smooth and consistent and will tend to pull away from the walls of the bowl. Start with 10 yolks and add the remaining two only if the dough is too dry which depends on the absorption of the flour. The dough should be soft and not too dry. At this point wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it rest.


After a few hours, roll out the dough on a pastry board, forming sticks 7-10 mm thick. Then cut the sticks into chunks about a couple of inches long each like dumplings. Fry in hot lard, always stirring the cookie to prevent it from standing still immersed in the lard.


Prepare the black part

In a small saucepan set over a very low flame, melt the butter and add, a little at a time, the icing sugar, vanilla, cinnamon powder, unsweetened cocoa and some water, which should be poured in until the right density is obtained.


Prepare the white part

Equip yourself with a pastry thermometer and prepare an Italian-style meringa. Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan, heat over very low heat and stir to dissolve the sugar. Continue until the sugar starts to spin.


When the syrup has reached a temperature of 110°C (230°F), start whipping the egg whites in a planetary mixer.


When the syrup reaches 121°C (249,8°F), pour it in a trickle over the egg whites, continuing to whisk until cool. The meringa should be shiny and white.


Stir for a long time with a spoon while pouring in the juice of the lemons in a trickle until the glaze is soft and white.


To finish

Divide the fried chunks of pignolata messinese into two equal portions and mix the first portion well with the warm chocolate glaze and the second portion with the lemon glaze. After that, arrange the two portions of pignolata on a serving platter. Or in trays next to each other so that they form a single two-tone mound.


Spread the leftover frosting to coat the pignolata well and allow the frostings to dry for at least an hour (preferably a full day). Your Pignolata messinese is ready!


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