Death by Sugar in Sicily

December 26, 2011

Sicily tries to kill you with sugar, and Christmas Day is no exception.

Everyone was walking the streets yesterday morning smooching and shouting “Auguri!”  And juggling a cake or two. Sicilian Man Carrying Christmas Cake, copyright Jann Huizenga

These are no ordinary cakes. They’re saccharine clouds pasted together with cinnamon-ricotta goo, doused with cognac or rum, laced with teeth-achingly sweet marzipan, and topped with pistachio nuts, berries, chocolate or a blood-rush of sugary icing and spirals of candied orange, lemon, and citron.

Dig in for a glucose overdose, and don’t blame me if you gain a few kilos:

Christmas Cake in Sicily, copyright Jann Huizenga

Christmas Cassata in Sicily, copyright Jann Huizenga

Christmas Cake in Sicily, copyright Jann Huizenga

Sicilian Christmas Cake, copyright Jann Huizenga

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28 comments to Death by Sugar in Sicily

  • If I had any lingering reservations about spending a Christmas in Sicily, they’ve all just been sweetly brushed aside!
    Buon Anno! May it be a delectable one.

  • Charlie

    You left out death by marzipan. We visited Sicily for six days and nights this September (staying one night in Catania and five nights in Modica). My wife just loved the marzipan, having some almost every day. When we drove to Pompeii / Rome / Tuscany for the next ten days of our time in Italy, my wife expected to be able to find marzipan most everywhere. But, while we found lots of yummy and great food, we really didn’t find any marzipan. My wife was bummed. But thanks to the wonder of the internet, I found there was a shop in Milan ran by a family that had moved from Sicily in the early 1900’s. So since we were flying home from Milan, we found the shop and bought a good sized box to take home. But of course the marzipan in Sicily was better (per my wife) and the cost in Milan was close to double the price in Sicily.

    Anyway, we get home and I try to find some place here in the states with little success. But I pursued it again this month given that it was Christmas time and I actually found two places in the states that sold marzipan from Sicily. So I bought seven boxes (only 5 to 6 ounces per box), and then I found someone on the Italian ebay site that ships to the US — so I bought one KG from this person (22 Euro’s for the marzipan plus 19 Euro’s shipping, ouch!). It’s been a week and I haven’t heard anything from the ebay person (an email would have been nice), but hopefully it will get here.

    In any event, I love your posts Jann and the pictures as they help me recall the wonderful time, people, sites, and food.

    Happy New Year everyone!

    • Jann

      Charlie, I love your wife!!! I don’t meet many people who have a marzipan addiction like I do!!! Ha ha about the price you paid, but honestly, it’s worth every cent. Sure hope your ebay person comes through… Thanks for commenting, Charlie, and happy new year to you and yours.

  • sandee wheeler

    They all look Yummy!! How can you ever decide which one to sample, and sample, and sample???

    • Jann

      Well, my system is to sample and sample until I start to feel sick. Yup, I’m utterly lacking in self control when it comes to sweets.

  • Pina Marra

    Buona la cassata!

    • Jann

      Ciao Pina, I waved at you today from Castelmola above Taormina–Calabria looked all sunny and nice while we were cloudy and windy. xxx

  • I know about it… I missed December in Sicily this year. But the goodies are not restricted to Christmas-time as you well know, so my favourite sweet shop in Modica will never miss me more than a few weeks>…..

    • Jann

      🙂 Yes, Markika—it’s a big problem for people like me that sugar-laden cakes and cookies are not just restricted to the holidays. 🙁

  • Sam

    I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, yet I am drawn to your 2nd photo – that “cute as a button” cake.

    • Jann

      Ha ha! A perfect description of that cake. I couldn’t figure out why in the world they put candy buttons it! (Now it makes sense in English, at least.)

  • Jann, I’m a chocolate addict so I think I would be quite happy with the one of the last photo you’ve featured! Oh my goodness, I’m drooling at the thought of a slice of this and a tall, cold glass of milk! 🙂

  • Cathy

    Buon Natale Jann! Oh my, they all looked soooo good… I need to lose a ton of weight before I go back to Italy so I can eat & eat & eat & eat & eat… well, you get the idea…. Hope you had a wonderful Christmas and all the best to you and your family in 2012!

    • Jann

      Just remember Cathy that there are so many damn stairs in Italian hilltowns that you’re on a constant “stairmaster”–that helps a bit with keeping off the weight of pasta, pizza and pastries.

  • ~~~~a blood-rush of sugary icing and spirals of candied orange, lemon, and citron~~~

    OOOO, Jann,
    …what a delicious -decadent description.

    Happy 2012. Xxx

  • Yum! Your beautiful photos of these sweets entranced me like a zombie as I went into my pantry and devoured a piece of rum cake left over from Christmas dinner. A moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips. While your disclaimer lets you off the hook about blame, you are still the inspiration! Buon Natale!

    • Jann

      🙂 Oops, Aysha. OK I feel a little guilty now… Love that phrase: ” a moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips.” Sigh.

  • I guess if you gotta go…….death by sugar is not a bad way to do it. Yum!

  • Therese

    It’s my birthday today and the gift was those photos! wow! Thank you!!!

  • Josephine

    How do you choose which one to taste? I’ll have to take a sliver of each one. Thanks for the visual tease. Buon Anno!

  • elpariente

    Thank you , becuse you are helping us to now Sicilia before visiting
    From Santander , Spain Merry Christmas !!!!
    Feliz Navidad and our best wishes for 2012!!!

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