‘Mpanatigghi: Chocolate-Meat Cookies from Sicily

Modica, Sicily

Modica, Sicily

Sicily is one of the most popular vacation destinations in Italy. Known as “the little continent”, this island has got it all: history, nature, art, ancient Greek temples, beautiful beaches, stunning churches, and most importantly –fabulous food! 

You’ll find plenty of culinary delights in Sicily as you venture across this triangle-shaped cultural crossroads of an island.  Sicily, which was born of Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Spanish, French, and even Papal conquests, makes this one very fascinating Mediterranean island to visit.

The Duomo of San Giorgio | Modica, Sicily

Furthermore, Sicily is considered by many to have the best cuisine in all of Italy, and if you have a sweet tooth, then Sicily is definitely the place for you.

The island is renowned for its pastries, and just as its cuisine reflects its multicultural past, so do the island’s sweets.  I am also excited to say that our Tavola Tours’ Splendors of Sicily adventure was wonderful; all of our guests enjoyed many culinary and cultural surprises.

I am sharing with you a very different Sicilian recipe in this blog post.  It is a chocolate-filled cookie called ‘Mpanatigghi, or Chocolate Meat Cookies in English. Yes, meat cookies!

They are a very traditional cookie and they hail from the UNESCO World Heritage town of Modica. This is a town known as the ‘city of a hundred bells and a hundred churches’ making it a great cultural experience. The architecture is amazing and a big reason why tourists visit the town. Well, yes, they come here for the many different and tasty culinary delights too.

One of them being the ‘Mpanatigghi meat cookies. I know this sounds a bit strange but they are really delicious and exotic, so do not raise an eyebrow just yet. They are filled with a tasty mixture of well-combined ground beef, nuts, and chocolate. Don’t they look tempting below?  You can think of them as a sweet version of an empanada or a mini calzone.

‘Mpanatigghi: Chocolate-Meat Cookies

‘Mpanatigghi: Chocolate-Meat Cookies

Can you begin to see and taste the culinary influences at work here from Sicily’s conquered past?  I bet you can! These half-moon shaped biscuits are definitely a must-try when in Modica since the city is famous for its chocolate production as well as these cookies.

After touring Modica it was time to have a real chocolate making experience with the local experts.  Learning about and tasting the famous chocolates of Modica was one of the culinary highlights during our Sicilian adventure.  And, to top it all off everyone made two bars of chocolate of their own.

Learning about the famous chocolates of Modica.

As if that wasn’t enough! They also could add additional flavorings to their chocolate bars such as sea salt, pistachios, chili, cinnamon, and orange.  This was a nice way for everyone to get creative and make a personalized chocolate bar souvenir. 

‘Mpanatigghi is a perfect example of ancient culinary influences leaving their mark on the tastes and flavors of this area of Sicily. These pocket-filled cookies have a thin outer crust and a rich decadent filling made up of chocolate, sugar, eggs, almonds, cinnamon, nutmeg, a hint of lemon peel, and the secret ingredient- ground beef or veal. If you are a vegetarian, of course, you can always replace the ground beef with a cooked vegetable such as eggplant, or simply omit the meat from the recipe and use chocolate and groundnuts.

Either way, this is a different, yet fun cookie recipe that will impress your friends and family. And with a flavor combination that can only come from the Mediterranean masterpiece known as Sicily.