Pasticiotti are traditional Italian desserts filled with a creamy, sweet substance. This filling may range from chocolate or vanilla custard, to ricotta cheese. Fruit flavored pastries, such as lemon tarts, are another option. Nutty pasticiotti, such as those prepared with almond paste, are popular as well.
Also known as pasta ciotti, these flaky treats have an exterior that is similar to pie crust, with a rich, creamy interior. The pastries are also commonly round, like small, handheld pies, and feature a shiny, crisp egg-washed top. Pasticiotti are considered somewhat complicated to make, as most recipes involve several steps. Assembly of the tiny pies is also considered somewhat complex.
Selecting the tart size is usually the first step in preparing these treats. They may be three inches (8 cm) in diameter, or even smaller if desired. The dough is generally composed of flour, sugar, and other standard baking ingredients, such as salt and baking powder. An egg and vanilla extract are usually required, as is milk. Some recipes may also call for vegetable shortening.
Once the dough is prepared, it is rolled into a ball and set aside. It may need to be wrapped up in plastic or a similar material while it rests. The filling is then created according to the recipe. It will vary widely, depending upon the flavoring agents, such as cocoa powder or fruit filling, that are used. More milk and eggs are typically needed, as are butter and sugar.
To prepare the filling for each treat, the mixture is usually heated and mixed, then set aside. Tart shells are then made out of small circles of the dough, and fitted into a cookie sheet. Each tart is then filled with the prepared mixture of fruit or sweet cream. Small circles are made with the remaining dough, which are then fitted over each pastry akin to a small pie crust. Each pasticiotti crust is pinched to fit well, then brushed with a prepared egg wash made of eggs and milk before baking, or refrigerating before baking, depending upon what the recipe calls for.
These Italian tarts should cook until they are golden brown on top. The typical cooking time lasts from ten to fifteen minutes. The pasticiotti should cool completely before serving. If being stored prior to serving, they should be placed in an airtight container in order to preserve their freshness. Refrigeration is also recommended if storing to ensure optimal flavor and texture.