Sweets and Confectioneries
Amaretti (macaroons) are light, baked cookies typical of homemade Modena baking that have maintained the same characteristics of authenticity and simplicity throughout the years.
Amaretti cookies, whose tradition goes back over a hundred years, look a bit rough and dome-like. They have an inviting bittersweet taste and a delicious almond and sugary perfume. They are crispy on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside. The basic ingredients are sweet and bitter almonds, egg whites and sugar or honey; but each family or pastry shop has their own recipe which may have different ingredients or prepared in slightly different ways.
It seems that the first Amaretti were made in Spilamberto, a small village near Modena. Every family had their own way of making the dough which is why each family recipe would taste slightly different. Commercial production of this local sweet began around the mid-1800s in Spilamberto, and then in Modena in the beginning of the 1900s.
There are references to Amaretti in the nineteenth century recipes by Ferdinand Cavazzoni, a confectioner in the House of Molza, one of Modena's most prestigious noble families.
Traditionally Amaretti follow a meal with a glass of white wine, but are also good for breakfast or as a snack with a nice cup of tea.
Their intense flavor is excellent with the delicate taste of whipped cream or even enjoyable topped with a spot of Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena.
Bensone and Tortelli
The Bensone is a very simple and antique sweet of Modena. Its recipe has remained unchanged over the centuries and is still prepared as it was in 1300, when on December 1, it was offered as a gift to the guild of blacksmiths and goldsmiths for the celebration of their patron saint. The Bensone's ingredients are nothing more than a mixture of flour, eggs, butter, milk and honey which subsequently was replaced by sugar, baked at 200 ° C (392 ° F) for about 30 minutes. The best way to eat a Bensone is to dunk it in a glass of Lambrusco and wait for it to become soft and purple.
Another typical sweet which goes as far back as the Renaissance era is the "Tortelli Fritti or al Forno": fried or baked ravioli which is distinguished by the combination of its sweet and tangy filling made with marmalade or fruit mustard. There are some people who also use pine nuts. These are sweets usually made during the Christmas holiday.
Another traditional sweet of Modena is the Croccante which originated in the Appennino Modenese (the mountain range near Modena ). The historical archives of the church and parishes indicate that this typical dessert which goes back as early as 1700 - 1800, was eaten when celebrating births, marriages and other important events for the community. The croccante was prepared in convents and in private homes using almonds, walnuts and hazelnuts. The sugar is caramelized to 180 ° C (356 ° F) and then peeled almonds, walnuts or hazelnuts are added. When the mixture is still hot, it is rolled out with a rolling pin and shaped into different forms. The climate is an important factor because caramel has a single enemy: moisture. The cold, dry climate of the Appennino Modenese keeps this ancient tradition alive.