Italian Dessert Italian Pastries


Testa di Turco (Moors’ Head) is a Sicilian dessert prepared all over Sicily.

In some town it is made with baked cream-puff pastry in the form of a turban and covered with honey or else filled with ricotta or custard cream and colorfully decorated; in other places, it is made with baked puff-pasty shaped into square and it is spread with ricotta or custard cream.

 On December 8, when the Feast of the Immaculate Conception is celebrated in the town of Castelbuono in the province of Palermo, the Teste di Turco, the Moor’s Heads are prepared for the occasion in every home. 

It is a simple and delectable dessert, easy to make and uses few ingredients, usually available in your pantry.

It is prepared in stages; first thin strips of egg-dough are fried, next a basic custard is made and then the Testa di Turco is assembled, while the cream is still warm.






Pastry Dough

  • 1 large egg
  • 6 oz. of flour
  • 1 quart of corn oil

The Cream

  • 4 cups of milk
  • 1 ¼ cups of sugar
  • Grated rind of 1 lemon
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup cake flour or 1/3 cup corn starch
  • pinch of salt

The Assembly

  • about 2 tablespoons of powdered cinnamon
  • 3 oz. chocolate chips or chunks of bitter-sweet chocolate
  • 1 tablespoon of multi colored sprinkles



  • 1. THE DOUGH
    Mound flour on a flat surface and form a well or place the flour in a bowl. Break the egg into the well or bowl and mix until the flour and egg are well combined. Dust working surface with flour and place dough in center; briefly knead and shape into a single mass. Use a rolling pin to flatten the dough evenly to about 1/8 of an inch. Cut into strips 2 to 3 inches wide and about 5 inches long. Heat the oil over medium heat and when it is hot, fry the strips of dough until golden- brown, a few pieces at a time. Set on the side on paper towels to absorb any oil.
  • 2. THE CREAM
    Heat the milk with salt and the rinds of the lemon in a 4 quart heavy saucepan, at a low heat. At the same time in a large bowl mix the sugar and the flour or corn starch and add the egg yolks one at a time, stirring with a wire whisk until well homogenized. When the milk is warm add 1 cup to the bowl, a little at a time, stirring continuously to avoid lumping. Increase the heat a little, transfer the egg mixture into the pot with the milk. Continue cooking, stirring constantly until it thickens and bubbles; cook for an additional 2 minutes. Remove from fire, and place in a bowl.
    In a rimmed serving dish, large enough to hold 2 layers of the fried dough, place half of the strips and cover with ¾ of the custard, sprinkle with the chocolate chips and dust with abundant powdered cinnamon. Cover with remaining strips of fried dough, spread on top the rest of the cream and shake over the colored sprinkles. Place in refrigerator for a few hours and serve cold.







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