The Parrozzo [par-ròz-zo] according to the Abruzzo native Gabriele D’Annunzio, a famous Italian writer and poet, after testing the chef Luigi D’Amico’s bake: “This new cake is so tasty that looks like saint Cetteo’s craze, as if he put the rich and fertile earth into your oven, and there it slowly changes into the sweetest among any other sweet thing.”
«È tante ‘bbone stu parrozze nove che pare na pazzie de San Ciattè, c’avesse messe a su gran forne tè la terre lavorata da lu bbove, la terre grasse e lustre che se coce e che dovente a poche a poche chiù doce de qualunque cosa doce»
Let’s Sara tell us about her Holiday Bake-off recipes (she has has for us two delightful variations) and Buon Appetibilis!
The Parrozzo is the Christmas cake par excellance in Abruzzo. Its main features are an intense and strong taste, a perfect balance between almonds and chocolate and a subtle citrus aftertaste. The origin of parrozzo is deeply rooted into farmers’ life.
Tradition has it that Abruzzo farmers used to bake a “pan rozzo” (i.e. rough bread roll), a dome-shaped loaf made with corn flour and baked into a brick oven. In 1920 Luigi D’Amico, pastry chef in Pescara, had the brilliant idea of turning it into a sweet cake.
D’Amico was inspired by the colours and the shape of the original “pan rozzo”, so he left untouched its shape and added some eggs to mimick the colour of the corn and he glazed the cake with a coat of chocolate, as to recall the dark and burned crust of the bread. The new – sweet – parrozzo was first tasted by Gabriele D’Annunzio, who praised so much that gave it the name “parrozzo”.
Honestly, I am not keen on almond cakes, so I thought about making some tiny “parrozzi” with their original ingredients and I added something sweet.
Here you can find my two recipes for “parrozzetti” (mini parrozzi): the first is made with almonds, pistachios, amaretti cookies and orange zest, glazed with dark chocolate; the second one (coming soon) is made with almonds, red fruits and ratafià (i.e. wild cherry liquor), coated with white chocolate. The outcome is a perfect union of rich perfumes and colours: citrus fruits and mixed berries, sweet almonds and chocolate.
Sweet Recipe: Orange-scented almond and pistachios mini Parrozzi
- Author’s Recipe: Sara Scutti
- Category: Dessert & Pastry
- Cuisine: Italian, Abruzzo
- Keywords: parrozzo, almond cake, dark chocolate, holidays
- Servings: 20 pieces
- Prep Time: 1 hour
- Cook Time: 45 minutes
- Difficulty: Medium
- 150 g “semola” durum wheat flour (*)
- 220 g sugar
- 6 eggs
- 75 g raw unpeeled almonds (or almond meal)
- 75 g raw pistachios (or pistachio meal/flour)
- 5 amaretti cookies (finely crushed)
- 3 spoonfuls of evo oil
- the zest of 1 orange
- 200 g dark chocolate
(*) The original recipe requires semolina, whose grain is coarser than durum wheat flour, but I prefer the latter.
- Finely mince the almonds, then pistachios.
- In a bowl, lightly whip egg yolks, add sugar (keep 1 spoonful for egg whites) then the orange zest. Keep whipping until they turn into a soft yellow cream.
- In another bowl beat the egg whites with the spoonful of sugar until stiff (beating gently at the beginning).
- Fold the egg whites into the yolk-cream using a wooden spoon or spatula, and gently pour the first mixture onto the other, (the purpose of folding is to retain the air you have whipped into the egg whites).
- Add the oil, then the almonds and pistachios meal, next amaretti and semola.
- Mix just until the batter reaches the ribbon stage consistency.
- Butter and dust the mold-tins with little flour, and fill them up to 2 cm from edge.
- Bake at 180 °C (pre-heated oven) for about 40 minutes. Let cakes cool before removing them from the tins.
- Meanwhile, melt the dark chocolate in a bowl set over a simmering pan of water (make sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water).
- Leave aside to cool slightly before using it to glaze the “mini parrozzi”.
It’s a holiday arrangement on a crystal cake stand with handmade sugar paste decorations made by my twin sister Maria, a “cake designer at heart”.