The facciuni of Santa Chiara is a traditional sweet typical of the province of Siracusa whose preparation dates back to the time when the monasteries had almost the monopoly of the production of confectionery in Sicily.
In the Middle Ages, in fact, the Sicilian nuns used to devote themselves not only to holy life but also to manufacturing pastries and desserts for the benefit of the finances of the monastery - as their fabulous sweets were made to be sold outside their cloisters.
The name facciuni derives from the fact that the decoration of the paper in which these sweets used to be wrapped was the chubby face of a little angel (like the one represented in the VIA DEI MILLE brand logo). Facciuni in Sicilian language means literally chubby or plump face. The name Santa Chiara comes from the homonymous monastery of the Sisters of the Order located near Siracusa, in the south east of the island.
The facciuni of Santa Chiara are made with a particular dough made of almonds and sugar filled with a citrus preserve, in particular of citron (cedro, in Italian), a fruit considered a religious symbol of biblical origin, and decorated with a fragrant dark chocolate and colourful sugar glaze. For many reasons so, the facciuni is one of the most divine Sicilian masterpiece of local patisserie.
When it is still intact, the facciuni smells mainly of sugar glaze but, once opened in two or savoured, an irresistible blended fragrance of almond, baked sugar and pulpy citron springs from the inside. A fragrance that, to qualify as divine is, in this case, the least.
Yet not everybody knows : the secret for a real divine facciuni is the the ability to retain a certain degree of humidity in the heart of the cake, thus ensuring the pastry to remain soft and fragrant for several days after its manufacturing.
The facciuni of these pictures are made in Noto by an artisanal bakery.