These Genovesi Ericine Sicilian Cookies are a typical dessert from the small town of Erice, but quite famous throughout Sicily.
We’re not sure where the origins of this Sicilian sweet are, but there are a few stories floating around.
Some say the name comes from the shape of the hat of Genovese sailors who came to the Sicilian Coast for commercial exchanges.
Others say that they were created by a woman from Erice, in love with a Genovese man.
The pastry was originally prepared by nuns from Erice, and eventually made famous by Maria Grammitico and her pasticceria. You can find her story (here).
While we were in Sicily (and, more often on the Western side close to Erice and Trapeni), I couldn’t get enough of these cookies! They are all the things I love in a baked dessert: a shortbread cookie stuffed with custard, baked and garnished with powdered sugar.
This is a tray a snapped a photo of on our breakfast buffet at our hotel in Trapeni…I had at least one everyday!!!
What’s the Difference Between Genovesi Ericine Sicilian Cookies and Cassatelle?
According to Taste Atlas, “Cassatelle or casateddi are deep-fried Italian pastries that consist of a sugary filling enclosed within two thin layers of dough, which is enriched with white wine or Marsala. Often considered to be the sweet version of ravioli pasta, cassatelle originated in the Sicilian province of Trapani, where they are still traditionally prepared with a lemon-flavored filling that combines ricotta cheese and chocolate drops.
Apart from the traditional version, different varieties of this classic treat are widespread across Sicily. The most popular ones include cassatelle Agira, prepared with a cocoa-and-almond filling, and different varieties are made with pumpkin, figs, or chickpeas.”
These Genovesi Ericine Sicilian cookies are have a different crust (more shortbread than pie crust) and are baked. And, although they can have other fillings, they traditionally have a custard filling.
What are Some Other Stuffed Italian Cookies?
I have a bunch of traditional Italian cookies on the blog, but aside from these filled Genovesi Ericine Sicilian Cookies, here are some others that might “tickle your fancy”:
- Vesche: a pillowy-light cookies that is filled with a meringue-type middle! You can see all the details here!
- these Pesche cookies (cream stuffed “peach” cookies) have no peach flavour – although that’s optional – but they are traditional on all communion and baptismal tables! Here is the post with all the details:
- These filled cookies that are like the traditional ‘peach’ cookies above but with a lemon twist! Click here for the recipe!
- If you ask me what I think is the most popular Italian cookies, these bocconotti have to be in the top 3!! If you’d like to see the recipe, click here for the instructions!
- and, finally, these ceci ripieni, a chickpea/cocoa-filled cookie are an Abruzzese specialty (my dad’s hometown), but they are quite similar to these Genovesi Ericine Sicilian Cookies
So, we are going to make these Sicilian cookies together…are you ready??
How to Make These Genovesi Ericine Sicilian Cookies:
- Get all of your ingredients together – regular flour can be subbed in for the semolina flour.
- Mix it all (according to the instructions below) in a food processor for ease…knead it together to form a dough and refrigerate.
- Meanwhile, make the custard filling and put a piece of parchment over top to ensure it doesn’t create a film.
- When the dough is ready, cut it into 8 pieces and roll out each section and cut out circles; continue until all of the dough is used (you can re-roll scraps and cut more circles).
- Fill each circle with a spoonful of the filling and top with another piece of dough.
- Make sure you secure the edges and place on a baking sheet.
- Bake until golden and dust with icing sugar!
These cookies are so delicous! They are delicate and not too sweet – a perfect treat for your afternoon espresso!!
Genovesi Ericine Sicilian Cookies
For the Dough
- 1½ cups semolina flour (you can use all flour if you can't find semolina)
- 1½ cups flour (and extra for rolling)
- ¾ cup sugar
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 4 egg yolks
- 1/3 cup cold water or as needed
For the Custard Custard
- 2 egg yolks
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 2 cups milk
- Zest of 1 lemon peeled (use a vegetable peeler)
- icing sugar for dusting
- Put the flours, sugar, and salt in a large bowl and mix together.
- Cut it in the butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until the mixture is crumbly. Stir in the egg yolks, one at a time (see note).
- Add just enough water so that the dough begins to stick together.
- Form the dough into a ball, wrap it in plastic film, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
- For the custard filling, beat the egg yolks and sugar with a whisk in a sauce pan (not on heat) until light and airy; stir in the cornstarch.
- Heat the milk in a separate saucepan or the microwave until hot but not boiling; pour a small amount of the hot milk into the egg mixture and beat well. Gradually add the rest of the milk continually beating the mixture and cook over low heat until the mixture thickens to the consistency of a light creamy pudding; stir in the vanilla and lemon peel.
- Place the custard in a bowl, cover it with parchment that directly covers the surface, and once it is cool, refrigerate.
- Lightly flour a wooden board and rolling pin, divide the dough into 8 pieces and roll out one piece at a time to a rectangle about 1/4 inch thick.
- Place 1-2 tablespoons of the custard on one circle of dough, and place another circle on top and press the dough together around the mound of custard so that the dough is well sealed (you can use a crimper or fork to seal the edges)
- With pastry cutter (you can even use a glass), cut the rectangle into rounds, taking away the excess dough and re-roll into more rounds.
- Place the filled genovesi on a paper lined baking sheet and bake at 425 for about 8-9 minutes, or until golden brown.
- Transfer the baked cookies to a rack to slightly cool, and dust with icing sugar.