Sicily has been famous for centuries for its rich culinary tradition, particularly for its delicious almond desserts. Over time, these sweets have become a symbol of the island and a delicacy appreciated all over the world.

The history of Sicilian almond sweets has its roots in antiquity. Almonds, in fact, have been cultivated in Sicily for more than 2,000 years and have been used since ancient times for the preparation of sweets and treats.

Even in ancient Greece,for whom southern Italy was known as a land rich in delicacies to the point that one of its names was Enotria or “land of wine,” they gave Sicily the nickname “land of almonds.” The Greeks, who colonized the island in the fifth century B.C., used almonds in many preparations, including sweets. Almond flowers were offered as gifts to the gods, and almond cakes were prepared for special occasions such as weddings and holidays.

With the Roman conquest of Sicily in the 3rd century BC, the tradition of using almonds in the preparation of sweets continued to flourish. The Romans adopted Greek recipes and enriched them with their culinary influences. Sweets such as “mustaceus,” a kind of almond cake topped with honey and wine, became popular in ancient Rome. (By the way, wine was one of the basic bases of the ancient Romans’ desserts-have you tried our Pangiallo?)

During the Arab-Norman period, which lasted from the 9th to the 12th century, Sicilian cuisine underwent a major evolution. The Arabs, who dominated the island for almost two centuries, introduced new techniques for growing almonds and new recipes.


The Arabs were great admirers of almonds and extended their cultivation throughout Sicily. It was they who introduced innovative methods for growing and processing almonds, such as processing peeled almonds into almond paste, which became the basis for many Sicilian sweets.

During the period of the Arab emirate of Sicily, Sicilian cuisine experienced a renaissance. Spice markets, the “souks,” were opened, where a wide range of spices could be found, including cinnamon, cloves, saffron, and cardamom. These exotic ingredients enriched Sicilian dessert recipes, which became increasingly complex and refined.

With the Norman conquest of the island in 1091, Sicilian cuisine underwent a new transformation. The Normans, of Viking origin, brought their culinary traditions with them and merged with those of the peoples who had preceded them (and brought them back).

The Normans particularly appreciated almond cakes and took them to a level of value never seen before. They innovated traditional recipes, introducing ingredients such as marzipan and fondant icing.

Marzipan, a mixture of finely ground almonds, sugar, and flower water, became one of the main ingredients in Sicilian sweets. It was worked by skilled hands and transformed into shapes of fruit, animals and flowers with amazing details. These sweets, known as “marzipan pupi,” became very popular during the Norman period.

Over the years, new variations of almond cakes have been developed in different parts of the island. For example, “cubbaita” are a typical dessert from Modica, made with almonds, honey and cinnamon, while “buccellati” are a specialty of Erice, made of almond paste and dried figs wrapped in a short pastry.


Today, Sicilian almond cakes are a true culinary excellence. They are loved all over the world for their unique flavor and thousand-year history. Every bite of these sweets brings to mind the ancient tradition of the Mediterranean and the richness of Sicilian culture.

At Verlessio we use almonds abundantly, a classic product of the “paleo” diet, naturally gluten and lactose free, and with very little sugar. One of our almond flour desserts is the Tortina alla Zucca

It is in Siciliani (need we say more?) that ingredients such as the almonds, but also the ricotta of the typical cassata, find their triumph in the Verlessio range. A true epitome of tradition, they bring the flavors and fragrances of Southern Italy into your home. 

Try them now: you can order them here.

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