“Flour, eggs, milk, yeast. It’s made from a piece of dough that’s as round as the full moon; there’s a little bit of everything mixed in; but they should be carefully considered: don’t forget the zuccata, the cream, the clove and cinnamon, some pieces of chocolate and whatever else the Lord moves me to put in”.
With these words, Sister Virginia Casale di Rocca Menna of the Collegio di Maria in Sambuca di Sicilia describes her creation in 1725, the Minni di Virgini, a round-shaped dessert with a red candied cherry on top, covered with a delicate white glaze and coloured sugar.
Don Giuseppe Beccadelli Marchese di Sambuca and his wife, Donna Francesca Reggio dei Principi di Aci e Leonforte, wanted this delicacy at the marriage of their only son, Pietro, with one of the splendid recipes which the Sambucese convent was famous for.
Donna Francesca’s urging to the mother superior had been clear: “Do everything to come up with something entirely new in your field, including confectionery“. Mother Pierangela of the Conti di San Giuliano had been equally firm and, in order to fulfil the will of the Beccadelli family, she ordered the Convent’s nuns be withdrawn so that they might be inspired by the Holy Spirit in the midst of meditation and silent prayer to create a dessert that evoked love and sensuality. The inspiration came to Sister Virginia from the Sambuca landscape: “This morning, I was looking out of the window of my little room at the hills that rise and fall from the Valle dell’Anguillara to the hill, del Castellaccio, and the coast, della Minnulazza. The shape of the hills has made me think we should present the marquises with a cake that is shaped like and contains the sweetness of this land. In short, something that’s sweet but delicious, so delicate that the moment it is tasted, it stirs up urgent feelings and, at the same time, lifts up the spirits“.
The Minni di virgini, although similar looking and using similar ingredients, are different to the Minni di Sant’ Aita, but that’s another story.