The first time I ever tried these was at a hotel breakfast buffet in Naples, they were so delicious I ate three of them and only felt a little ashamed!
These addicting little pastries are native to Lecce in Puglia, southern Italy but were first commercially produced in Naples. The invention of pasticciotti is credited to Andrea Ascalone, a chef in the town of Galatina, who in 1745 had left-over pastry and pastry cream and decided to use it to make small torta. The name pasticciotto allegedly comes from the Italian word pasticcio, or “mishap.” Tradionally baked in a small rectangular loaf tin, it is fine to bake them in muffin cups. The pastry cream is sometimes flavored with almond, vanilla, or chocolate and can be baked with or without the Amarena cherry inside. My family likes the sharpness of the lemon with the Amarena cherry. They are generally served for breakfast but can be eaten any time of day. Delicious with coffee or limoncello!
For the pastry:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1/4 cup Lard
- 1/4 cup whole milk
For the filling:
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup cream
- 1 cup whole milk
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 teaspoon lemon extract
- Zest of 2 lemons
- 1 egg, beaten, for the egg wash
- 12 Amarena cherries such as Fabbri or Toschi (Trader Joe’s has a much cheaper version that is delicious too)
Make the custard:
- Sift the cornstarch and sugar, whisk together, and put in a saucepan.
- Add the milk and heavy cream and whisk lightly until the mixture is smooth.
- Beat the egg and whisk in, heat on medium, whisking constantly, until custard thickens.
- Whisk in the butter, lemon extract, and the lemon zest until smooth. Remove from heat and cover custard with plastic wrap (place plastic wrap directly on top of the custard) to prevent a skin from forming. Set aside to cool.
Make the pastry:
- Place the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder in the bowl of a food processor, pulse until thoroughly mixed.
- Add the butter and lard then pulse until mixture resembles cornmeal.
- Add egg, milk and vanilla and mix until dough starts to form a ball.
- Turn out dough onto a board and work dough until its smooth, about 5 minutes.
- Divide dough into two discs, wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 425°.
- Take one piece of dough and place it onto a floured board. Roll it out to 1/4″ thick.
- Using a 3-inch cookie cutter or glass, cut out 12 rounds.
- Place each round into a muffin tin and press into mold, making sure pastry comes to the top of the tin.
- Add about 2 tablespoons of the custard to each of the cups and insert an Amarena cherry in the middle of the custard.
- Cover each cup with a 3″ round of dough.
- Let chill in refrigerator for at least an hour or overnight.
- Brush tops with egg wash, then bake at 425° for 15 -18 minutes.
You can freeze the uncooked pastries to cook at a later time. Before cooking, let defrost and warm to just below room temperature.