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A delicacy you often find on Mount Etna, thanks to the presence of many chestnut trees and the tradition of honey that has been handed down around the volcano for centuries. Chestnut honey is part of the sweet panorama of Etna typical food, even if not everyone knows about it. Its goodness is in fact “obscured” by the much better known cannoli, cassata, or orange blossom honey. Yet chestnut honey has been for centuries, since the times of Greeks and Romans, the most loved and desired food on the tables of southern Europe. And of eastern Sicily in particular.

Characteristics of chestnut honey

Obtained from the nectar of the chestnut tree’s flowers, this type of honey is darker than average. The flavour has a bitter aftertaste that not everyone likes but which actually enhances the late hidden sweetness. Consuming this type of honey means stocking up on excellent antioxidant values, mineral salts, magnesium, iron and proteins. A single spoonful of this food is almost equivalent to an energetic and healing lunch. But as mentioned, chestnut honey is quite bitter and therefore does not fit the usual role of sweetener. How can you best use and appreciate it? The Etna tradition teaches us this.

chestnut honey02
photo by COOKIST IT

How chestnut honey is enhanced in Etna cuisine

Chestnut honey, with its load of fructose and its bitter peaks, has a complicated taste that is not associated with the usual drinks (tea, milk) or Sunday sweets. You have to know it well to enhance it in the kitchen.

It goes wonderfully with strong cheeses, such as gorgonzola, or with rocket salad. But it also gives a special note to cheeses such as caciocavallo or parmesan. Also excellent with ricotta, a product that is consumed a lot and willingly on the slopes of Etna. A touch of chestnut honey also enhances certain sweets typical of these areas, such as biscuits with dried fruit (nucatole, nzudde) and looks great in walnut cakes. Try it, among other things, on game meat.

A recipe with chestnut honey

The ingredients:

flour 00 -250 gr
water – 130 gr
granulated sugar – 60 gr
chestnut honey – 100 gr
chocolate – 100 gr
dried fruit (walnuts, almonds, pistachios) – 100 gr per type
dried figs – 100 gr
cinnamon – 1 tsp
orange zest


Mix flour, sugar, water, ammonia and salt until you get a nice soft dough that you will put to rest, in the plastic wrap, for half an hour in the fridge.

Lightly sauté the dried fruit in a pan to toast it a little, then blend it to obtain a grain or flour. Add the figs and blend again.

In a saucepan, melt honey and chocolate together, stirring and avoiding them from burning.
Add the mix of dried fruit and figs to the sweet melt you just obtained and mix to obtain a very thick mixture.

Finally, roll out the dough thin, create the shapes and fill them with the thick mixture, close everything and bake – 180 ° for 15 minutes.

Autore: Grazia Musumeci

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