Il torciglione


8 people
30 min.
Cook time
35 min.

Among the typical sweets of Umbrian Christmas there is one with a very particular shape, the torciglione.

Its origins are still uncertain; some claim its shape is that of a lake eel, others that of a snake.

According to one of the most widespread oral legends, the origin of the torciglione dates back to a cold winter during which there was no possibility for the nuns of Lake Trasimeno to worthily welcome the visit of some important churchmen. So a nun, gifted with wit and ingenuity, retrieved the few available reserves, such as almonds and eggs, from the larder. With these simple ingredients she baked a cake giving it the shape of the eel that they probably expected their guests to find, and so the torciglione was born.

Regardless of its history, it is a dessert that is very famous throughout the region, of which there are several versions that may vary in terms of dosage or the presence or absence of certain ingredients, but above all in terms of the final decorations, which leave a lot of room for creativity.


Pour the peeled and chopped almonds into a bowl, add the sugar, lemon peel and vanillin and mix well. In another bowl, whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt and gently add them to the almonds, mixing with a spoon and then kneading the mixture until smooth.

Now divide it into two parts (to make two “torciglioni”) and proceed by shaping each part by stretching it with your hands until it takes the shape of a snake.

Place the torciglione on a baking tray covered with baking paper and finish as you like, making small cuts to give the “scales” effect. We placed a whole almond in each cut, a red cherry for the tongue and two coffee beans for the eyes... you can let your imagination run wild!

Leave for 30 minutes covering the baking tray with a cotton cloth and then bake in the oven at 140° for about 35 minutes, until lightly golden.