Petrafennula | Dolci Siciliani Recipe
The origins of this Sicilian sweet are immediately recognisable in its ingredients, introduced by the Arabs who inhabited the island. Another name for is is Cubbaida, from the term "qubbiat" which means (almond), while the word nougat comes from the Spanish turrar (roast).
In Trapani area where I am, this almond candied is called Petrafennulla. I have a vivid memory of my childhood. On summer' sunsets, my grandfather Giovanni gathered all the grandchildren to harvest the almonds together.
For 3 month, we collect handpicked almonds and in September, my grandmother Letizia, used make the Petrafennulla as a reward for the grandchildren. Part of the almonds were saved for the winter season to make sweet or Trapani-style pesto.
In our family, we use the abbacchiatura method with a long stick to let almond drop on the soil. Abbacchiatura is a term known to those who practice agriculture or at least live in a place where more than there are fields there are olive groves or walnut and almond trees. It is a technique that like many others in this sector but not only, has been evolving and in the coming years will probably continue to do so for the benefit of people who can continue to cultivate by doing less physical effort and therefore a less exhausting job.
In agriculture, abbacchiatura, also called bacchiatura, is a method of harvesting fruits. It does not apply to a singlefruit, not only for olives, therefore, but for different trees, especially walnuts, olives, chestnuts and almonds. Whenharvesting with this technique, the branches of the affected plants are beaten with long sticks so that the productsnow ripe on them hanging fall to the ground naturally and quite immediately.
There are cases in which the harvesting is not recommended, one of the disadvantages of proceeding in this way is thatit can cause damage to the trees, not always repairable and predictable. In addition to the "injuries" from perch, there arealso to be taken into account, the subsequent and consequent parasitic diseases that can occur when a branch or a trunkhas "open wounds", just as it happens to people. You become more vulnerable.
For almonds something similar applies, they are ripe when the husk detaches from the shell and dries progressively.The barking in this case can be carried out either with long poles, manually, or electrically, remembering not to hit thebranches too violently.
The almonds are dropped on nets stretched out under the canopy; the fruits are harvested by hand.
My grandmother, Letizia's Petrafennula Recipe
• Kitchen Table Top and Olive Oil (Alternatively baking sheet)
Spread olive oil well on top of a kitchen table top (alternatively lay a baking sheet on a table top)
Wash the almonds clean and spread them evenly on the kitchen top (or use baking sheet for alternative) to air dry
Pour the sugar into a saucepan and melt over a low flame
Remove from the heat and ensure that all sugar are evenly melted
Pour the mixture on top of the almonds. Work quickly to smooth it out to a thickness of around 2 cm
Let the sugar melt to slightly cool down with the almonds until it turns candy form
Cut the petrafennula into rectangles or diamonds and set aside to cool. Serve at room temperature.