In the past, Sicilians never had a great liking for the Turks: from the Norman domination until the Spanish viceroyalty, they were feared and hated, because of the bloody murders committed during their attacks on Sicily. That is why to bite into these cakes was a form of revenge. In Scicli they are associated with the Madonna della Milizie who with sword in hand, helped the inhabitants fight against Turkish invaders. In Catania, the monks of the San Nicolò l’Arena Monastery saved them for Maundy Thursday and St. Martin’s day: “filled with two different types of cream (ricotta and custard), two for each monk, the size according to the custom of the monastery.”
Here is the recipe:
Put 300 gr. of lard, a pinch of salt, 300 ml of water in a saucepan and bring to boil. When the water begins to boil add 300 gr. of sieved 00 flour (for cakes and sweets), continually stirring until the mixture begins to come off the sides of the saucepan (5-10 minutes), then put the mixture into a bowl and leave to cool. Add 9-10 eggs, two at a time, until a soft mixture. Transfer the mixture to a piping bag, and on a greased baking tray pipe balls of 8-10 diameter, making sure you leave enough space between them. Place in a hot oven until the balls have increased in size and are golden (about 30-40 minutes), without opening the oven door. Meantime, prepare the ricotta cream filling: drain 400 gr. of ricotta and sieve it, then place in a bowl together with 200 gr. of sugar, mix and add 100 gr. of chocolate drops. Use confectioner’s cream or custard instead of ricotta if you prefer. Once the “teste di turco” are cold, fill them with the preferred cream, cover with icing cover and enjoy.