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One of my favorite places in the world, Sicily, is home to deceptively simple cuisine that reveals deep layers when you start digging. This candy is a great example. The fact that sesame, almonds, and oranges are grown in the region stems from a history of Arab rule.
I’ve added a layer and made this traditional recipe my own, including olive oil, which makes the mass less sticky and easier to work, and our Apollonia N29 blend for its deep yet bright flavors. It is made from very few ingredients, so quality is paramount; find the best sesame, orange, and honey you can get your hands on, and be ready to taste something amazing.
Lay a piece of parchment paper on a heatproof surface, lightly oil it, and have a rolling pin ready. If you're adding almonds you can either chop them or leave them whole.
Heat the sugar, honey, and olive or sesame oil in a 2 quart sauce pot over medium-low heat, stirring constantly.
Once the sugar has melted completely (this will take about 20 minutes), stir in the spices, then the zest, then the sesame seeds, plus nuts if you are using them. Stir well to combine; it will get pretty thick and difficult to stir so use a sturdy wooden spatula or spoon.
Once the mixture is well-mixed, turn it out onto your parchment paper and begin flattening the mass with a lightly-oiled rolling pin, rolling it out to 1/4” thick and trying to keep it in a roughly square shape.
While the candy is still warm, slice it into strips, squares, or diamonds with a sharp knife. Rub the knife with a bit of olive oil to keep it from sticking.
Transfer the sheet to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely, then break the pieces apart. Giuggiulena can be stored for up to 4 weeks in a tightly sealed container.
If you'd like to play with flavor variations this recipe can be easily halved. Below that it gets a bit challenging to work with the small quantities.
Play with different spices and fruit to create endless variety. A few ideas of mine to get you started:
• Shabazi, lemon zest, toasted whole coriander seeds
• Espelette, mandarin zest, crystallized ginger
• Oz and toffee pieces (use black sesame seed for a dramatic color)
Keep the sesame mass warm over very low heat and roll out small quantities at a time into very thin sheets (1-2 sesame seeds thick) on sheets of oiled parchment. Cut out circles and form them over thin rod molds to make open ended tubes. Allow to cool completely, then pipe full of spiced pastry cream. Some ideas for flavoring the filling: Cancale and Aleppo, Yemen and halva, Orchidea and gyokuro green tea.
As above, roll out very thin sheets on parchment. Cut into 4-inch triangles while still warm and move the sheet to a drying rack to cool and firm up. Use these delicate sesame wafers to garnish a banana split, or use them to add a crunchy accent to your favorite dessert or bowl of ice cream.
Food images and recipe © Christian Leue.
Questions? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org