A huge cream puff whose shape resembles an Arabic turban filled with sweet ricotta cream or custard. This is the “Turkish Head”, a true Sicilian delicacy born in Scicli, a baroque town near Ragusa, in the south east of the island. Its history is intertwined with that of a historical event dating back to 1091 when the Sciclitans freed themselves from the threat of the Saracens after a hard battle.
It is said that the Militant Madonna appeared armed with a sword on the back of a horse to help the Normans to win the battle, thus freeing Scicli from the Saracens who countless died on the battle field. This sweet, inspired by the heads of moors bandaged on the forehead, can be enjoyed throughout the year even if it is mostly consumed during the “Festa delle Milizie”, a very heartfelt feast held in Scicli. A lot of tourists come to admire the theatrical re-enactment of this miraculous fact.
The Turkish Heads are choux cakes baked in the oven. They are very similar to cream puffs, but they are three times bigger, like a tea saucer. Dough is made from flour, eggs and lard, which is then kneaded with particular care and finally poured into a pastry bag. The skilful hands of pastry chefs will then create concentric circles that, once baked in the oven, will take the form of a large cream puff in the shape of a turban. They are usually crunchy on the outside and empty inside. In order to keep them fragrant, we suggest to put the filling just before eating them, like we usually do with cannoli. They are usually stuffed with custard or sweet cow’s milk ricotta, although it is now possible to find them in different flavours.
Ingredients for Turkish Heads (by Barbara Conti)
Ingredients for cream puffs:
300 ml water; 300 g white flour; 300 g lard; 9 eggs; a pinch of salt.
Ingredients for the filling:
400g cow’s milk ricotta; 200 g sugar; 100 g chocolate drops.
Icing sugar to taste