Tuscan Nutella and meringue tart

For me, living on the border between the provinces of Siena and Florence, driving south in Tuscany means going through one of the most breathtaking scenery on the planet, the Val d’Orcia and the Crete Senesi, declared by UNESCO, in 2004, World Heritage Site. The outlines of the hills are well known throughout the world, just as the small group of cypress trees at the top of a small hill that seem placed there on purpose to inspire photographers and dreamers.

Pienza, Bagno Vignoni, San Quirico d’Orcia… these are lands of cheese, hot springs and soft landscapes. Then Montalcino, known throughout the world for its wine and also for the excellent extra virgin olive oil, the view that stretches to a far horizon of rolling hills and an abbey just outside the town where the air still vibrates with mysticism and Gregorian chants.

When you drive southward  you have a far away reference point, the Mount Amiata, an ancient and no longer active volcano that dominates the surrounding valleys, the Val d’Orcia, the Bolsena lake, the Chianti and the plain of Maremma. In cloudless days you can see the Amiata mountain even from Siena and my house, covered with chestnut and beech forests. Though it has the fire in its remote past, now is the water that represents its main source of wealth: the Fiora waterworks supply with the local water the entire southern Tuscany and northern Lazio.

Until a few years ago the Mount Amiata was well-known for its winter tourism, being the most important ski resort in the southern Tuscany with its ski tows and its cozy mountain huts. Nowadays it is instead mostly appreciated for the fresh air, the green areas, the hot springs and a straightforward and hearty cuisine.

The goal of our southward trip was Piancastagnaio, famous for its incredible houses clinging to the side of a cliff and protected by the fortress Aldobrandeschi. Piancastagnaio is named after the splendid chestnut trees which surround the town and gift the villagers with one of the most important ingredients of their local cuisine, the chestnuts, celebrated every year in the famous Crastatone festival.

If you’ll ever visit Piancastagnaio, I do suggest you to climb to the Rocca Aldebrandesca, just to enjoy the pictoresque view of the town spreading beneath, with red roofs, the clock tower and the smoke from the chimneys, painting the scenario of an old time mountain village, genuine and true.

And now we enter in a Lord of the Rings genealogy: Piancastagnaio is the hometown of my friend Paolo, who is the husband of my best friend Laura, famous for the luscious Sacher Torte recipe, as well as for being the daughter of Rita, who revealed me the recipe for the delicious pine nut cake, and from now on also for being the daughter-in-law of the woman who gave me the recipe of the ricciolina, the decadent cake who pushed us South!

A first clarification is due, since I really do not want to raise the wrath of neighbour villagers, separated by colorful rivalries as always happens in Italy: the ricciolina tart belongs to the culinary tradition of Abbadia San Salvatore, not to Piancastagnaio. So do not hold it against me if the recipe comes from Laura’s mother-in-law from Piancastagnaio, I strongly believe that a thick slice of shortcrust pastry filled with creamy chocolate spread – now replaced with the world famous Nutella – would help even the most bitter enemies to come to an agreement.

The ricciolina tart hides between two crumbly shortcrust layers a thick Nutella filling and a generous handful of dried fruit, just to make it even more devilishly good. As the filling is made with Nutella, the first thing that comes to mind would be to use hazelnuts, but you can find sometimes also almonds or walnuts. I chose walnuts.

The walnuts are extremely appreciated in the Tuscan pastry making (just think at cavallucci) and their use goes back to the old times when myths and legends were part of the everyday life. Despite the love for this rich dried fruit, the relationship with the walnut trees has always been based on respect and fear. It was thought that the witches chose these trees as a shelter: every time the wayfarers found a walnut tree with a cracked trunk, they used to abandon that path not to wake up the witch who rested inside.

This is a mountain tart, a rustic and traditional shortcrust with a thick filling of Nutella and walnuts, covered by a gentle puff of meringue on which you can draw squiggles of chocolate, from which the cake takes its name.

When Paula from Bellalimento asked me to contribute with a Nutella sweet treat to the blog Bellanutella, I decided to take up the challenge and dig into the Tuscan culinary tradition to find a typical cake made with this delicious chocolate spread… this was definitely a cake worth the trip to the Mount Amiata, I bet you will adore it, too!

Head over to Bellanutella blog to discover the mouthwatering recipe to make the ricciolina!

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  1. says

    These photos are simply stunning. And make me long for the Tuscan countryside. My parents have a house just near the border with Umbria where we used to spend every summer (and will be going again this year), but’s it’s possibly even more beautiful at this time of year with that incredible winter light.

    This tart looks heavenly too – the combination of hazelnut, chocolate and meringue is unbeatable.

  2. says

    That tart looks amazing! I’m definitely going to try making it soon – I can’t resist anything with Nutella in it, and Nutella and meringue together might just be a match made in heaven.

    Also, thanks for sharing your gorgeous photos of Tuscany! I can hardly wait until this autumn when I’m going to be exploring the area!

  3. says

    Thank you for the beautiful landscape photos and the delicious desseert!!! Couple of months ago we reviewed Brunello di Montalcino wines from the area and we are in love with this enchanting Tuscan region.
    J & C

  4. says

    This dessert looks amazing. Not only is it elegant, but it has such great flavors and textures. Well worth submitting to Bellanutella.
    Also, thanks for the intro to that site.
    Your pictures of south Tuscany are breathtaking! Glad you shared those.

  5. says

    Your landscape pictures make my longing to visit Italy even stronger, and your pictures of the tart makes me wish for a slice 😉

  6. says

    Gorgeous tart and stunning photos of Tuscany! I hope to visit someday, but in the meantime I will have to make this tart and imagine that I am in Tuscany. The swirls in the topping are so fun!

  7. says

    You are so lucky to live in such an amazing place. I have only been to Tuscany once for an afternoon and I fell madly in love. I cannot wait to go back and spend some time eating, drinking and hiking my way around. Gorgeous photos and great tour of your area. The tart looks amazing too and I’ll have to go check out the recipe.

  8. says

    Let me first begin by telling you that the photos you have shared are absolutely breathtaking…just lovely. My family is from Slovakia, and the scenery in these pictures reminds me of the old-world solitude of rolling, European hills/mountains that I hold so dear. And as for the mouth-watering recipe- gorgeous! Chestnuts are such a unique ingredient we don’t often use or find in many American dessert recipes, but it’s used often in European desserts- thanks so much for showing and sharing this soul satisfying entry, friend!

    • says

      this is one of the aspect I love about blogging: discovering the world through other people’s experiences… I’ve never imagined that there could be a similar landscape in Slovakia, this makes me curious to visit someday!

  9. says

    Giulia, this looks absolutely irresistible! I’m a big Nutella and tart fan, I already know it will be a beautiful thing for my family :)
    I love, love, love these photos. So natural, amazing!
    I’ve been in Montalcino few years ago. Such a lovely nature!

  10. says

    Wow. I LOVE nutella! I eat it out of the jar all the time, but this is a far tastier and more elegant option. Fabulous recipe!

  11. says

    What a beautiful blog that I’ve only just discovered.

    Lovely post…I’m looking forward to reading more of your entries. Congratulations on the FoodBuzz Top 9 today. :o)

  12. says

    I stopped by your blog to admire the stunning photo of the meringue tart that flashed on Foodbuzz today but I never knew such a treasure of good food and good writing would unfold before me!You are not only a prolific writer but an amazing photographer too,besides being an expert cook – all rolled in one.Your post makes me want more than ever to visit Italy and so does the lovely Nutella Meringue Tart!I’m so glad I cam here and will frequent you place often from now on:)So lovely meeting you!
    Ongoing Event – ‘Love for Lentils’


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