CNYEats A Taste of Utica Pastaciotti or PUSTIES

by Joanne on January 8, 2012

I never really appreciated the name "Pusties" for these Utica Italian delicacies. The word just doesn’t sound appealing however, the little pastries look and taste a lot better than their abbreviated name.

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In our book, A Taste of Utica , there are seven recipes for Pusties: Pages 153, 165, 166, 200, 201, 202, and 203. All very similar and I have detailed only a few. Buy the book, at Taste of Utica (Lulu) and make your choice. I used the first recipe, "Pastaciotti (Pusties)” by Peter Notaro (page 153).   Makes 24 Pusties.

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Notes of caution: 1. Use mini-tart pans. 2. Butter and flour each tart pan to prevent sticking. 3. Don’t overwork the dough/crust, otherwise it will be tough.

One more note of caution (I found out the hard way):  Although you want to roll the dough thin, you can’t make it too thin otherwise the pusties will collapse in the middle.

Chocolate Filling:

  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup sweet cocoa
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup water

Directions: Blend together the milk and water. Mix the dry ingredients in the top of a double boiler. Add liquid gradually to prevent lumps. Cook until thickened. Allow to cool.

Vanilla Filling:

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup flour

Directions: Mix flour and sugar in a double boiler. Slowly add milk and mix thoroughly. Cook until thickened. Add a small amount of the heated mix to the beaten yolks then add the yolks to the pudding mixture. Cook one minute longer.

Crust:

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup shortening
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 TBS granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 beaten eggs

Crust Directions: Blend the dry ingredients and then the shortening. Add the eggs. Roll out dough in between waxed paper. *It might be sticky, although mine turned out a bit dry (I reduced the shortening amount). Cut out circles to fit tart pans. Pat cut outs into tins on the bottom and up sides of the well greased tins. Fill 3/4 full with your choice of the vanilla or chocolate puddings. Cover with a dough round and seal around the sides. Put a “pimple” of dough in the middle of each lid for the vanilla filled pusties.  Brush with a beaten egg. Bake at 400 F until golden, about 18 -20 minutes.

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Page 165 Pusties, posted by Bernie who says "Here’s my mother’s (actually probably my grandmother’s) recipe for "Pusties".

  • 2 cups light brown sugar
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • 1 cup lard/shortening
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup water

Directions: Sift together the sugar, flour, baking powder and salt. Beat the eggs with the water and add to the dry mixture. Roll out dough and cut to fit well greased tart tins. Fill with pudding. Top with dough. "Vanilla pusties have a pimple on top".   Bake at 400 F for 20 minutes.

Page 166 Nonnies Pusties – An Oliva Family Recipe posted by Fat Sal who says "The more people who make pusties, the better the chance for world peace…and all that"

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"Nonnie always puts a little "button" of dough on top of her vanilla pusties. She does this for ID purposes…also to keep chocolate seeking kids from taking a bite of vanilla and putting the remainder of the pusty back. "

Vanilla filling:

  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla (or some brandy) – Whoa! SAL!
  • dab butter

Cook over low heat until thickened. After it cools, add vanilla (or brandy) and a dab of butter.

Chocolate filling:

  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cocoa
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup cold water

Mix flour, sugar, cocoa. Add milk and cold water. Cook over low heat until thickened.

Make the Dough:

  • 1 1/2 cups shortening or lard
  • 5 cups flour
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 cup honey

Blend shortening, sugar, flour, baking powder. Blend like you would a pie dough. Add water, honey, eggs. Mix and refrigerate while making pudding or at least an hour.

Add a little extra flour if dough is too soft. Make little meatballs and spread in the pusty tins. *DO NOT SPREAD THICK BECAUSE THE BAKING POWDER WILL CAUSE THE DOUGH TO RISE. Fill the pusty tins with filling, cover with a dough cap and brush the top with egg yolk. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes.

Page 200 Pusties, posted by Ken – Made very much in the way Fat Sal made his pusties however, Ken suggests for easy removal once cooled, freeze and pop out of tin using knife to loosen the sides. Also, Ken made larger pusties in standard tins for 12 servings.

A word from Sharon "My Grama and Grampa lived at 523 Albany St. We spent many a hot summer night sitting on their porch with their friends having gel latté from Carusso’s and coffee with their friends after dinner. I believe the expression was bueno serra…. Good evening to all that passed. Oh … those were the days."

Page 201 Pusties (Chocolate) posted by Chris.

This recipe using 4 cups flour (same as Sal) but no honey in the dough, makes 14 large pusties or 24 small. Baking at 400 for 20 minutes.

Old city memories from Dick Laurey, when asked… "What do you remember as summertime nostalgic eats in Oneida County? "

"Ride my bike from Amy Ave. to Jeans Beans for that great fried haddock, with tartar sauce and cole slaw. On the bike again to King Cole Plaza for great ice cream.

The pharmacy (name started with a "B") just outside of the Plaza for lemon phosphates.

Neisners downtown for pizza.

Leave my dad’s barber shop (Doc’s Barber shop, next to the old Rainbow Grill) on Varick St. and walk east to Bonneville’s for ice cream. Real custard ice cream on the east side.

Buy fresh buttery popcorn from the old man who sold it, right on Sunset Ave. next to Murnane Field.

Follow the ice wagon as it came up Amy Ave. on hot summer afternoons. The ice man would give us kids pieces of ice wrapped in brown paper.

Walking home from school in the winter then eating thick slices of fresh hot Italian bread with butter."

The recipe on page 202 is posted by Angela and since it is much the same as the recipe I used by Peter Notaro (the first one) which doesn’t add honey to the crust, I didn’t detail in this post.

Our last pusty recipe is called "Pasticiotta" on page 203 and posted by Patsy Pirillo.

  • 4 cups flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tsp. vanilla or lemon extract
  • 1 cup shortening

Sift all dry ingredients and cut in shortening. Make a well and add the eggs, flavoring, and milk. Knead for 5 minutes. Roll out pastry dough as for pie crust and cut to fit each tart tin. Fill each tart half full of pudding and cover with top crust. Seal edges and trim. Brush crusts with beaten egg yolk. Bake at 400 for 20- 30 minutes. Sprinkle powdered sugar on top.

Filling:

  • 1 quart milk, slightly warm
  • 6 heaping TBS cornstarch
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 or 4 egg yolks
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 rounded TBS butter

In top of double boiler, mix sugar and cornstarch well. Beat egg yolks slightly with 1/2 cup milk. Add rest of milk to sugar and cornstarch mixture, stirring well. Cook on medium heat stirring constantly until mixture starts to boil and thicken. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Add 1 tsp. vanilla and 1 TBS butter. Stir until butter melts.

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Although the tops “blew” out of most of my homemade pusties because I rolled the dough too thin, they were more delicate and lighter in taste than the bakery version.  So this “cosmetic” failure turned out to be a tasty success.

Go ahead. I dare you:  make each and every Pastaciotti recipe and let me know which one is best. Be right back

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5 Comments

  • At 2012.01.08 16:00, Pam said:

    I remember eating pusties as a kid, one of my favorites!
    Your homemade ones look so great 🙂

    • At 2012.01.08 20:49, Donna said:

      OMG, vanilla are my favorites!!!!!!

      • At 2012.01.09 00:50, Deeps @ Naughty Curry said:

        such a cute name, pusties! the chocolate filled one looks delectable 🙂

        • At 2012.01.09 12:51, easyfoodsmith said:

          Pusties new to me! Never ever heard of them. But their texture looks very interesting…something between a cookie and cake I guess. All the versions look fabulous. Thanks for sharing

          • At 2012.02.26 22:06, Headbandgrrl said:

            I’ve lived in Philadelphia, PA for the last 6 years and have searched and searched for a Chocolate Pasticiotti aka Pusty. First, they always call them by their true name. Boy, did I sound foolish to them the first time I looked for them. Second the top Italian bakeries use muffin tins and the bottom crust is so thin, it takes away from the flavor. My guess is volume and economics rule their process. I also asked for chocolate. No bakery in South Philadelphia has chocolate. One bakery told me they don’t make them because they’d spoil! I finally bought the cookbook last week so I can show my neighbors what REAL chocolate pusties taste and look like!

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