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September 4, 2016

Pasticciotto Napoletano: Pastry Cream Pie with Black Cherries. {Recipe}

A photo posted by Peggy Markel (@peggymarkel) on

Off to the nearby village of Praiano, suspended between the mountains and the sea, our mouths water as we approach a dimly lit piazza by the small sea port surrounded by cliffs.

Colored boats and nets line the shore as old men, looking more like crustaceans than humans, sit around tables playing cards, listening to the sea. They are waiting for calm, when they will jump in their boats and paddle out for the catch.

Before we sit down, we talk with Armandino, a serious man, a bit shy, but “molto simpatico.” He owns one of only two small trattorias in the square. From behind the bar, he tells us that he has just prepared an excellent squid sauce and that we should take a walk and come back in 10 minutes.

Back at Armandino’s, we sit down outside to a table he had just covered in crisp white linen, set with glasses and a bottle of local wine. It was Furore, named and produced from the next village. A light, dry, fruity wine, it was perfect for our meal and an honor because Giocondo, our host, was born there.

After we feasted on coral-colored squid in a tasty stew of its own juice over tubetti, Armandino fed us fresh melon and torta for dessert which was an experience equal to the magic of the night. It was moist, flavorful and so deliciously honest that I asked for the recipe. It was Pasticciott—a traditional dessert of the region (borrowed from the Pugliese) with black cherries and custard.

Armadino’s wife, Filomina, humbly came to the door and told us, blushing, in a soft voice, how she had done it.

Per la frolla (a sweet crust):

3 1/2 cups of flour (use 3 and the other half if needed)
1/2 cups of butter
1/2 cup of sugar
3 egg yolks
1 teaspoon of baking powder

Per la crema (the pastry cream):

1 pint of milk
3 egg yolks
3/4 cups of sugar
2 tablespoons of cornstarch
1/2 stick of vanilla (or 1 t vanilla extract)
1 jar amerene (black cherries in syrup or use fresh if they’re in season)
powdered sugar to dust

Preparation:

Mix together all ingredients for the pasta frolla and put in the fridge for an hour.

Prepare the cream, putting milk to simmer with the vanilla. In a sauce pan, mix egg yolks and sugar together, add cornstarch as well as warm, simmered vanilla milk.

Put this on a low flame and keep stirring until it starts to bubble. After a minute or two, turn off the fire and let it cool.

Take out the frolla and roll 3/4 of it to a thin crust, 12 inches around or whatever size pie plate you choose.

Fill it with the strained cherries on bottom, covering with the pastry cream. Cover pie with leftover frolla, rolling it out thin to fit on top.

Bake in the oven for 45 minutes at 350F, until the top becomes golden. When cool, sprinkle with powdered sugar.

As if dessert wasn’t enough, Armandino gave us a special digestivo made from wild laurel. Its herbaceous quality was subtle, yet soulfully satisfying, enough depth to cap off a somewhat rustic night in the open air. Another walk in the moonlight.

Satiated, we had no need for conversation. Only the sound of the sea and the moon’s reflections on the water.

~

~ Join Peggy on one of her Culinary Adventures on the Amalfi coast. ~

~

Author: Peggy Markel

Image: Author’s own

Editor: Katarina Tavčar

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