Desserts in Sicily

Sicily is famous for its desserts, none more so than the wonderful cannoli (singular cannolo), whose delicate pastry shells and just-sweet-enough ricotta filling, and local pistachio crumbles barely resemble their foreign impostors. They come in all sizes, from pinkie-size bites to holiday cannoli the size of a coffee table, but all should be freshly made to order (espressi).

Even your everyday bar will display a window piled high with dozens of varieties of ricotta-based desserts, including delicious fried balls of dough, like the cream-filled Iris of Catania. The traditional cake of Sicily is the cassata siciliana, a rich, chilled sponge cake with sheep's-milk ricotta and candied fruit. Often bright green thanks to a colored almond-based frosting, it's the most popular dessert at many Sicilian restaurants, and you shouldn't miss it. From behind bakery windows and glass cases beam tiny marzipan sweets fashioned into brightly colored apples, cherries, and even hamburgers and prosciutto.

If it's summer, do as the locals do and dip your morning brioche—the best in Italy—into a cup of brilliantly refreshing coffee- or almond-flavored granita (Italian shaved ice). Indeed, top-quality frozen treats remain prevalent throughout the island; the world's first gelato is said to have been made by the Romans from the snow on the slopes of Mt. Etna mixed with fruit from the countryside.

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