Pabassinas or Papassini are typical Sardinian biscuits traditionally prepared for All Saints’, Christmas and Easter, although Sardinians love to have them at home all year round to offer to guests.
The name derives from the Sardinian word ‘pabassa‘ which in Italian language means Uva Passa, i.e. Sultanas/Raisins.
Pabassinas are delicious moreish biscuits enriched with dried fruit, glazed on top and with a traditional rhomboidal shape.
Each area of Sardinia and each family has its own recipe, among the main differences there is certainly the use of ‘Sapa’, typical of the areas of South Sardinia, which is not used in the North of the Island.
Pabassinas are also prepared without the use of Sapa- Cooked Grape Must, althought is quite common to use it in their preparation.
Sapa (or Saba), also known as Vin Cotto (Cooked Grape Must) is a sweet and dense syrup prepared by cooking grape must for a long time until it becomes with a sticky consistency, not to be confused with balsamic vinegar which is quite different and it would not be good for these biscuits.
Cooked grape must is also widely used in Puglia, Umbria, Marche, Emilia Romagna and in a recipe like this one: wheat-berries-with-pomegranate-seeds-vincotto-traditional-apulian-dessert/
40 biscuits roughly, Preparation time 30 mins, Cooking time 25-30 mins
- Vin Cotto – Cooked Grape must, 200 ml
- Honey, 80 ml or Sugar, 60 g
- Sultanas/Raisins, 450 g
- Peeled almonds, 300 g
- Walnuts, 150 g
- Durum Wheat Semolina Flour, 200 g (also depends on the thickness of grape must)
- Grated orange zest, 1
- Cinnamon powder, 2 teaspoons
- Nutmeg powder, half teaspoon
- Star anise or powder anise seeds, a pinch
- 2 cloves, crushed
- For the icing:
- 200g icing sugar
- 3-4 tablespoons of warm water (not boiling)
- Sprinkles / confectioners’ for garnishing, to taste
Soak sultanas in lukewarm water for about 15-20 mins.
Cut both almonds and walnuts into small pieces and toast them lightly in the oven to low temperature, taking care not to toast them too much.
Pour honey, grape must, spices and grated orange zest into a saucepan and bring slowly to boil.
As soon as it boils, pour in the durum wheat semolina flour, mix well so as not to create lumps. Cook over low heat for about 5 -10 minutes.
Once cooking time is over, squeeze and dried sultana and pour them together with the toasted almonds and walnuts, keep cooking over low-medium heat and stirring frequently until the dough starts to come off the saucepan sides. This will take about 10 mins.
Tip: you will need to get a very thick “jam”
Remove from the heat and pour and then stretch the dough on a lighty-floured surface by giving it a thickness of about 1 cm and let it cool to room temperature.
When the dough has cooled down make rhombus-shapes with a knife or a cutter, then line a baking tray with baking paper, place biscuits onto the lined baking tray and bake to 180C for about 20 mins.
Remove from the oven and leave to cool.
For the icing:
It is prepared at the last moment putting the icing sugar in a bowl by adding a tablespoon of water to start and stirring, then add the second tablespoon a little at a time and stirring again.
If it is too thick add a little more water, if it is too liquid add icing sugar.
Once ready, pour it directly over the biscuits, then spread multi-colored sprinkles on top of each biscuits.
Before serving Pabassinas, the icing should be completely dry, so they have to rest and cool down until they are like that.
Tip: if you want to shorten the waiting time, you can put the Pabassinas back in the oven still warm to dry the icing for no more than 5 minutes.
Where to get VinCotto – Cooked Grape Must? You can find it on-line on Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Saba-Cooked-Grape-Must-8-5/dp/B009W9CJ9U