What is nocchio, the dessert served between bay leaves

Laurel and Christmas sweets? The right recipe is that of the Artenese nottura. Let’s talk about a treat of holidays typical of Lazio tradition. It’s a crunchy base of dried fruit and honey, served between two bay leaves. Certainly a poor sweet, the peasants’ nougat, but with a unique aroma and a precious taste.

In Artena, a small town in the province south of Rome, the sweet with laurel is commonly called noccata, from the dialect “nocchia” that is hazelnut, the main ingredient of the recipe together with honey and bay leaves. In other areas it is known as nociata, because the base is prepared with walnuts instead of hazelnuts, but the tradition is certainly the same.

Laurel and Christmas sweets: the scent of the holidays

The nottura is a typical dessert of Lazio Christmas. In good company together with pangialli and dry biscuits of all kinds, it belongs to family tradition and its recipe is handed down in almost every family from generation to generation.

Enriched with honey and dried fruit, the crunchy biscuitactually incredibly soft on the palate, it is simple to do e it keeps for a long time. Precisely for this reason it is customary to prepare the noccata even a few days before the start of the holidays and consume it throughout the course of the holidays and up to the Epiphany.

Served among bay leaves, hazelnuts and honey are flavored, enriching the taste of each bite. The result is an exquisite dessert with an enveloping aroma, a legacy of a poor peasant tradition, which is actually full of pride and wisdom.

How to prepare the artenese noccata

To prepare a traditional Artenese nova you only need:

  • 200-300 grams of hazelnuts, preferably organic.
  • 300 grams of honey, usually a tasty honey like that of the chestnut is used.
  • as many fresh bay leaves as needed to coat the prepared mixture. Dried leaves can also be used but the aroma of the dessert will be less clearly intense.

How to proceed

With a knife, chop them hazelnuts grossly. Combine them in a saucepan with the honey brought to a boil over low heat and let them cook for a few minutes, mixing carefully. Turn off the heat and let the mixture thicken.

On a slightly moistened work surface, pour the mixture e spread it with your hands (also moistened) to form a kind of rectangle from about half a centimeter thick. When cold enough to hold its shape (a few minutes are enough to have a less sticky mixture), cut the rectangle into strips and then cut them into diamond shapes.

Every crispy turbot must be enclosed between two bay leaves. Leave to cool in the refrigerator. The nocchio is ready to be served. Despite cooling, the dessert will remain soft and crunchy with every bite.

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