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Chocolate Pastiera Napoletana

As Easter approaches, a very Italian tradition is the Pastiera Napoletana. This classic Italian Easter Pie combines the creaminess of ricotta cheese, the chewiness of wheat berries with a buttery chocolate crust, creating a harmony of textures and flavors. It makes the perfect Italian Easter dessert.

Pastiera on a cake plate with a slice on a white plate.


 

Easter in Italy is filled with many tasty delights from the tradtional Easter Bread, to Chocolate Easter eggs to Easter bunny cookies.

Recipe Ingredients

  • Chocolate pastry crust – or a plain crust would work also known as pasta frolla
  • Grano cotto – also known as cooked wheat, this can be purchased in most Italian grocery stores around Easter time or on line.
  • Ricotta cheese – be sure to strain the ricotta for at least 30-60 minutes, or even overnight in the fridge.
  • Candied fruit – cedro (citron), orange or lemon
  • Honey
  • Milk – 2% or whole milk
  • Sugar – granulated sugar
  • Eggs – one whole egg and one egg yolk
  • Vanilla – vanilla extract
  • Butter – I use salted butter
  • Zest – lemon zest and orange zest
  • Chocolate chips – semi sweet mini chips
  • Orange blossom water – I didn’t add it because it is quite expensive, I used orange zest instead
Ingredients for the recipe.

What is Grano Cotto?

Also known as cooked wheat is a by product of corn or wheat, it is a cereal anciently cultivated between the Mediterranean Sea, Black Sea and Caspian Sea. Cooked wheat is suitable for both sweet and savory preparations and in Campania it is used for the famous Easter pastiera.

How to make a Pastiera Napoletana Recipe

Prepare the pie dough. While the dough is chilling prepare the filling. Place the ricotta in a sieve to drain.

Chocolate dough on waxed paper.

In a medium pot add the butter, grano cotto, lemon zest and milk and heat on medium heat until the mixture is creamy and dense. Stirring often. Transfer to a large bowl to cool.

Milk, butter and cooked wheat in a silver pot before and after cooked.

In a large bowl combine with a whisk the egg, egg yolk, ricotta, sugar, orange zest, vanilla, candied fruit and honey. Add the cooled grano mixture to the ricotta mixture and stir to combine.

Grano and egg mixed together.

Remove the pastry dough from the fridge and knead a couple of times to soften it. Divide the dough in half, lightly flour the dough and rolling pin and roll out or roll the dough between two pieces of parchment paper, fit the dough into the prepared cake pan and 1/2 to 3/4 up the side of the pan. The remaining dough roll out and cut to make strips.

The pastry in the cake pan.

Prick the dough with the tongs of a fork. Pour the cream mixture in the pan and with your fingers adjust the edge so that it almost matches the level of the filling, if needed use a sharp knife to remove any extra dough.

The filling in the pan.

Sprinkle the chocolate chips on top then place the strips on top of the filling to form a lattice finish.

Pastry strips on the pie.

Brush the top of the pastry with a little milk then bake in the pre-heated oven until cooked. Test with a toothpick. Let cool before serving.

Pastiera baked in the pan.

The origin of the Pastiera

The origins of Pastiera Napoletana are as layered as the dessert itself, with stories that intertwine mythology, religion, and local traditions. One legend attributes its creation to the siren Parthenope, who, enchanted by the Gulf of Naples, offered the city seven gifts, including wheat, ricotta, eggs, wheat berries, orange flowers, spices, and sugar, which the Neapolitans combined to create this delicious pie. Other theories link the Pastiera to ancient pagan rituals celebrating spring, later adopted by Christianity to symbolize Christ’s resurrection.

The Pastiera is traditionally prepared on Good Friday which allows the flavors to meld and increase over a couple of days, before enjoying it on Easter Sunday.

The lattice top of the pastiera is traditionally made with 7 strips of dough, the strips represent the 7 roadways in Naples, are typically arranged in such a way that they resemble the window grates in Naples.

The pastiera on a white cake plate.

Tips for making the best Pastiera

  • Be sure to cook the grano mixture enough so that is is thick and creamy. It should take approximately 20-30 minutes.
  • Use a cake pan rather than a pie plate.
  • Some Italian like to add a pinch of cinnamon in the recipe.
  • If the crust starts to brown too much, then place a piece of foil over the pie tent style and continue baking.
  • This recipe does take some time to make so don’t rush yourself.
  • Toss the chocolate chips with a little flour to keep them from sinking while baking.

Can the Pastiera be prepared in advance?

The filling can be made the day before, this way the flavors will mingle. The dough can also be made in advance, raw dough will keep for up to 2-3 days in the fridge, well wrapped.

How to store the Pastiera Napoletana

Wrap any leftovers well in plastic wrap, foil or place in an airtight container. It will keep for for 3-4 days in the fridge. Remove from the fridge 30-45 minutes before serving. The completely cooled pie can be frozen whole or in slices, in a freezer safe container. It will keep for up to 2 months in the freezer.

More Italian Easter Desserts

A slice of pie on a white plate.

Whether you’re a seasoned baker or looking to make an Italian Easter recipe, making a Pastiera Napoletana is a way to participate in a centuries-old tradition, bringing a piece of Naples into your home. Enjoy!

Pastiera on a cake plate with a slice on a white plate.

Chocolate Pastiera Napoletana

Rosemary Molloy
As Easter approaches, a very Italian tradition is the Pastiera Napoletana. It makes the perfect Italian Easter dessert.
Prep Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Chilling Time 1 hour
Total Time 3 hours 20 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine Italian
Servings 8 servings
Calories 419 kcal

Equipment

  • 1 stand mixer
  • 1 8 inch cake pan (springform at least 3-4 inches high)

Ingredients
 
 

  • 1 chocolate pastry crust*
  • ounces ricotta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 9 ounces grano cotto (cooked wheat)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • ¾ cup +1¼ tablespoons milk (2% or whole milk) (200 grams total, if you double he recipe then double this amount)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest (or 1 teaspoon orange blossom water)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • tablespoons candied fruit (orange, lemon or cedro)
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • ¼ cup unsweetened mini chocolate chips

EXTRAS

  • 2-3 tablespoons powdered sugar

Instructions
 

  • Prepare the pie dough. While the dough is chilling prepare the filling.
  • Place the ricotta in a sieve to drain.
  • In a medium pot add the butter, grano cotto, lemon zest and milk and heat on medium heat until the mixture is creamy and dense. Stirring often. Transfer to a large bowl to cool.
  • In a large bowl combine with a whisk the egg, egg yolk, ricotta, sugar, orange zest, vanilla, candied fruit and honey. Add the cooled grano mixture to the ricotta mixture and stir to combine.
  • Pre-heat oven to 350F / 180C.
  • Remove the pastry dough from the fridge and knead a couple of times to soften it. Divide the dough in two, one a little bit more than the other, roll the larger one first, lightly flour the dough and rolling pin and roll out or roll the dough between two pieces of parchment paper, fit the dough into a greased and floured or sprayed 8 or 9 inch / 20-23 cm cake pan (or springform pan) and ½-¾ inches (1-2 cm) up the side of the pan.
  • The remaining dough roll out and cut to make strips.
  • Prick the dough with the tongs of a fork. Pour the cream mixture in the pan and with your fingers adjust the edge so that it almost matches the level of the filling, if needed use a sharp knife to remove any extra dough.
  • Sprinkle the chocolate chips on top then place the strips on top of the filling to form a lattice finish.
  • Brush the top of the pastry with a little milk then bake for approximately 30 minutes then lower the heat to 320F / 160C and bake for another 20-30 or until cooked through. Test with a toothpick. Let cool, dust with powdered sugar before serving.

Notes

If you like a shiny top, brush the top of the pastry with a lightly beaten egg white before baking.
The filling can be made the day before, this way the flavors will mingle. The dough can also be made in advance, raw dough will keep for up to 2-3 days in the fridge, well wrapped.
Wrap any leftovers well in plastic wrap, foil or place in an airtight container. It will keep for for 3-4 days in the fridge. Remove from the fridge 30-45 minutes before serving. The completely cooled pie can be frozen whole or in slices, in a freezer safe container. It will keep for up to 2 months in the freezer.

Nutrition

Calories: 419kcal | Carbohydrates: 59g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 68mg | Sodium: 154mg | Potassium: 134mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 22g | Vitamin A: 289IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 115mg | Iron: 2mg
Did You Make This Recipe?Please leave a comment below or pin it to your Pinterest account!

3 Comments

  1. I cannot get wheat berries where I live. Is there anything that can be used to substitute the wheat berries?

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