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Some claim it was created by the papal cook, while others believe it was invented by a creative nun that did not want to waste leftovers, so its origins are still legendary. Nonetheless, everyone agrees in saying that Pope Pius V's favorite dessert is an explosion of deliciousness.

by Barbara Iovine

The most representative Parthenopean dessert is better known all over the world as the Sfogliatella “Santa Rosa” and delights everybody with its crunchiness.
Today it is the most appreciated dessert not only by Neapolitans, but also by all the gourmets who come to Campania looking for sun, sea, and delicacies!

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The Sfogliatella Santa Rosa

The filling of "biancomangiare"

Legend has it that in 1681 this delicious pastry was born by chance on the heights of the wonderful Conca dei Marini, at the monastery of Santa Rosa.
The nun in charge of the kitchen found herself struggling with a large quantity of leftover semolina, and she did not want to waste it. What better way than experimenting with a new recipe using the ingredients she had on hand? She mixed the semolina with milk, ricotta cheese, dried fruit, and lemon liqueur (the one that today we know as Limoncello). Then she covered the dough with two sheets of pastry and closed them in a way that reminded of a Monk’s hood, with black cherry and custard on the top. All this turned out to be one of the most delightful and successful pastries in history, named after the Saint of the monastery: Santa Rosa.
However, a similar mixture had already appeared in 1570 on the menu of Pope Pius V, with the name of sfogliatella full of biancomangiare, even if in a different shape.
We could therefore say that the baker nun tried to replicate a noble pie and gave life to a very original dessert instead, which is nowadays made by all the best pastry chefs out there. 


Ancient Monastery of Santa Rosa - Conca dei Marini

The secret recipe

The original recipe was preserved within the monastery walls for almost a century. Somehow, around 1818 it leaked, and it got to the pastry chef Pasquale Pintauro, who reinterpreted the recipe and gave life to the so-called curly sfogliatella.

He made a thinner puff pastry fulfilled with semolina cream, eggs, ricotta cheese, candied fruit, milk, and sugar: a perfect communion of consistency and taste. The citrus aroma and the cream delicacy blend perfectly in a very crunchy triangle of pastry dough that seduces both the senses of smell and taste with an explosion of scents and flavor. Try to picture yourself enjoying the sfogliatella in front of the sea, while on holiday on the Amalfi Coast. Your experience will become even more magical and unforgettable!


Santa Rosa Sfogliatella - original version

Santa Rosa Conca Festival

Nowadays Conca dei Marini, the village near Amalfi where the convent was located, hosts a summer street food festival as a tribute to the queen of pastries. On this occasion, the most daring pastry chefs and bakers of Italy compete in the creation of the best sfogliatella at the Santa Rosa Conca Festival.

In the past edition, well-known personalities took part in this cheerful event, such as the very famous chef Sal De Riso as a judge, and local artists with their live music. If you decide to spend your holidays on the Amalfi Coast during the summer period, remember to check the dates of this event so that you can drop by. You will take part in a festival where good food is the undisputed star. Most of all you will fully experience the festive and carefree atmosphere that only a summer evening on the Amalfi Coast can evoke. It will definitely warm your heart!

As a Neapolitan who grew up in this beautiful territory and its traditions, my opinions might be biased, but I hope I have made your mouth water while reading my article.
Now, while I clean the keyboard from the crumbs, you too please go and get your crunchy Santa Rosa! 

  • Every year, at the beginning of August, the event "Festa della Sfogliatella Santarosa" takes place in Conca dei Marini, a long-awaited appointment in the summer program of the well-known seaside village of the Amalfi Coast.
  • The original version of the Santarosa sfogliatella, born 400 years ago, had a shortcrust pastry casing. Here is the original recipe of the famous Pasticceria Pansa di Amalfi.
    shortcrust pastry (flour, lard, sugar, water, orange honey, ammonia)
    filling: milk, ricotta, orange cubes, eggs, powdered sugar, semolina, Strega liqueur, cinnamon drops, custard (milk, sugar, flour, egg yolks, cornstarch, vanilla beans) and candied black cherries.

fun facts

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