The Noto Almond
Noto almonds are the core ingredient of Sicilian haute pâtisserie, grown in the Noto Valley exclusively and characterised by a sweet flavour and intense fragrance, deemed Slow Food presidium.
The Noto almond is the core ingredient of Sicilian pâtisserie, a heritage handed down by the ancient Arabs who used to grind them and mix them with egg whites and honey. Noto is the name of the territory where the almonds are grown. Their exceptional organoleptic characteristics, intense smell and aromatic flavour enticed and seduced anyone who ruled the island, from the Normans to the House of Anjou, from the Spanish to the House of Bourbon.
Characteristics of the Noto almond
Nicknamed “la Romana” (it. “the Roman”) by botanic Giuseppe Bianca (1801-1883), this almond grows in the Sicilian countryside around the town of Noto. A great deal of artists and poets has been inspired by the amazing view of the almond blossoms in February. The harvest takes place in the months of July and August and is usually carried out by teams of hand pickers, by means of bamboo canes and canvas. The nut, deprived of its husk, is sun-dried and toasted.
Noto almond-based confectioneries
The Noto almond is the core ingredient of numerous confectioneries which are the jewel in the crown of Sicilian patisserie, such as pasta reale, a type of uncooked marzipan, Martorana’s realistic reproductions of fruits and vegetables, the dolcetti da riposto (lit. “sweets from the pantry”), sugar-coated minatures, scallop-shaped conchiglie filled with cedar jam, almond milk, torrone nougat, the mustazzoli, S-shaped orange-honey pastries filled with crushed almonds, amaretti, biscotti, and the famous cassata, a sponge covered in ricotta cheese, chocolate, candied peels and marzipan.