Christmas Tuscan Sweets: Copate from Siena

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The Christmas season is in full blossom, and here is a quick and easy recipe to prepare a truly Tuscan sweet for your Holidays. Copate is a sweet from Siena. They are flat and round discs of nougat, extremely sweet and tasty. It is one of the least known Christmas sweets, yet it is among the most expensive delicacies. Also known as cupata (from the Arab qubbiat, almond), it is an ancient sweet. It can be white or dark (with chocolate) and is composed of a brittle made with honey, walnuts and egg whites enclosed between two wafers. It should be said that this is not a derivative of nougat, as the mixture of honey and egg whites was much used in confectionery throughout the Middle Ages and used to accompany any kind of sweet. In Siena it was used to manufacture copate, adding in chopped and toasted almonds in the white kind. The first copate however, were the black ones, without egg white, to which was added cocoa in the 18th century. Currently only the white ones are on the market, although it seems that the black ones are tastier.

900 grams of honey, 150 grams of sugar, 400 grams of peeled chopped and toasted almonds, six egg whites, 100 grams of vanilla sugar, a box of white wafers.

Start by cooking the sugar and honey over low heat. After about a half hour of cooking add the whipped egg whites and stir until the mixture appears to be mildly dense. Now add the chopped almonds and about 100 grams of powdered vanilla sugar. Keeping the container with the mix in a warm place (such as a pot of slowly boiling water) and using a 3 millimeter-high round ring of about 10 centimeters (4 inches) in diameter, start creating the copate.
On a flat plate, place a wafer below the ring and with a spoon fill the ring, then apply another wafer on top. The wafer should cover the entire size of the ring. If you cannot find them of the same measure and shape of it, cut the exceeding wafer when the copate have cooled down. You should allow to cool down for several hours at room temperature prior to serving them. Having more than one ring will speed up the process.