Modigliana Chocolate Mandorlato. A Traditional Cake From An Ancient Secret Recipe
Modigliana Chocolate Mandorlato is a traditional chocolate-almond cake from Modigliana, a small town in the province of Forlì-Cesena, in Emilia Romagna. The ancient recipe has always been a secret, it has been passed down orally from generation to generation. Historical documents from the 19th century cite confectioner Giuseppe Assirelli as being the first to produce this prized dessert on a wider scale, and it has been the recipient of a number of awards: in 1906 the silver medal at the “Salone Internazionale” in Milan, in 1907 the silver medal from the Ministry of Agriculture, Industry and Commerce, in 1909 the gold medal with diploma of honor at the International Exposition in Paris, in 1910 the grand diploma of honor and cross of merit and also in 1910 the diploma and golden medal in Cremona.
Initially associated with Christmas tradition and only prepared in November and December, the chocolate-almond cake gradually became a treat for all seasons. The traditional recipe calls for cocoa, almonds, candied orange and lemon peel, flour, cane sugar and spices. The flour comes from locally grown ancient varieties of wheat like Gentil Rosso and Rieti. The secret to its success lies in the precise balance between the ingredients and the unusual working of the dough, which is pressed by hand into circular molds before being baked in the oven.
In the 1930s, Assirelli passed his recipe on to his assistant, Goffredo Cicognani, though during Christmastime the town’s families and bakeries all produce their own personal variation, but the authentic recipe was always kept by Cicognani Family. Goffredo’s son, Valdemaro, carried on his father’s business until the mid-1990s, before closing it for age and health reasons.
The secret recipe was at risk of being lost. Shy and very reserved character, he had always declared: “I bring the cake with me to the grave … I’ll die, the recipe dies”.
Until Maurizio Mortani and his family decided to revive the business, preserving the ancient tradition and promoting it in their small artisanal atelier, Modigliantica.
The passing of the baton with Maurizio (known as “Momo”), takes place thanks to the friendship that bound Maurizio’s maternal grandparents to Valdemaro. It is so that one day, grandmother Olga sits at the table of the Bar Pasticceria to ask her childhood friend Valdemaro, if he wanted to sell the business and the ancient secret Maurizio.
In 2002, therefore, Modigliantica was born and a giving new life to the Chocolate Mandorlato: Maurizio set himself the goal of preserving and promoting the ancient Modiglianese tradition beyond the town’s borders.
For this small reality, the selection of raw materials and the value of “Memory” (understood as a memory of a Territory, a Tradition and a Family) is fundamental. In the continuous search for quality, organic flours are used, coming from ancient varieties of grains grown in Romagna (Rieti, Gentil Rosso ….) and a selection of raw materials from the area, according to the perspective of the sustainability of the local economy.
The passion for history and traditions is also reflected in the packaging of the products: Modigliana Chocolate Almond is characterized by the ancient dessert mold; while the other confectionery products produced are distinguished by the “Memories Postcards”: images and family portraits showing the Romagna of the past. The same Modigliantica logo represents the “Roccaccia”, that is the Rocca dei Conti Guidi, symbol of Modigliana.
Tradition, Memory and Territory are the basis of Modigliantica’s original productions, that are currently at risk of extinction because variations that do not respect the traditional recipe can be found on the market.
But don’t be fooled, only Momo knows the ancient secret!