Sambuca di Sicilia’s Virgin’s Breasts

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Last week in Sambuca di Sicilia I encountered these “Minna di Virgini,” or Breasts of the Virgin, pastry. When I saw them, I immediately knew this was something special. The Sambucese proudly confirmed that these breast-shaped, baked pastry with a well-pronounced nipple were created by the nuns of the Collegio di Maria in 1725 in honor of the wedding of Don Pietro Beccadelli, Baron and Marquis of Salinas Sambuca, and his bride Donna Marianna Gravina. Once you bite into one, through the soft pastry crust, you taste the layers of sweet ricotta with chocolate chips and cinnamon and candied green squash paste. One baker to whom I spoke explained that Minna di Virgini were particularly special because she grew the squash herself, specifically for the filling, and then she brought her beautiful, granny-smith-apple-green squash out of the kitchen to show them to me!

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