Gizzada (Coconut Pastry)

I was out shopping with a friend a few weeks ago, when she stopped at a Jamaican restaurant in her neighborhood (more about that later) to pick up patties. A little take-away place, it had the standard Jamaican fare on the menu – rice and peas, curried chicken, brown stewed fish, etc.

I wasn’t very hungry but the pastries caught my attention, well one in particular: the gizzada, an open tart with a grated, spiced and sweetened coconut filling.

Pinch me round or gizzada

Also known as “pinch-me-round,” for the characteristic wavy look of the edges of the shell, the gizzada came to Jamaica from Portugal, where there’s a similar pastry, called guisada.

Portuguese Jews began arriving in Jamaica in 1530. They were fleeing religious persecution under the Inquisition, which ordered them to convert to Christianity. Jamaica became a refuge for Jews from Spain and Portugual, and by the mid to late 1880s, there were more than 2,000 Jews on the island. The gizzada is one of their contributions to Jamaican cuisine.

Gizzadas are pretty popular with Jamaicans. I remember eating them as a child, and there were always available at the cafeteria at school. They are also popular with Jamaicans abroad so I wasn’t surprised to see them at the restaurant.

I love gizzadas because of the combination of the textures and flavors – crunchy (shell) and soft (filling), the pungent taste of nutmeg and the spiciness vanilla, the sweetness of the filling against the plain tasting shell. Some recipes also use ginger.


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  1. 1 cup baking flour
  2. 1/4 tsp salt
  3. 1 1/4 oz. butter or margarine
  4. 1/4 cup ice water
  1. 1 small coconut, grated
  2. 1/2 cup brown sugar
  3. 1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
  4. 1/2 vanilla
  5. 1/2 tbsp water
  6. 1/2 tbsp butter
  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Mix together flour and salt then cut in butter and shortening.
  2. Add ice water to form dough.
  3. Use fingers to blend mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs.
  4. Shape into a ball before wrapping in waxed paper and refrigerate for half an hour.
  5. Divide crust into 4 balls.
  6. Use a rolling pin to flatten balls into 3" circles of 1/4" thickness.
  7. Pinch edges to form a ridge to hold in coconut and sugar mixture.
  8. Put on greased cookie sheets and partly bake crust.
  1. Combine all ingredients except butter and cook over a low flame for about 20 minutes.
  2. Add butter then fill shells with coconut mixture and bake for a further 15-20 minutes.
  3. Makes 4 gizzadas.


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31 comments on “Gizzada (Coconut Pastry)

  1. sounds delicious Marcia. Do I need to grate a coconut – or can I cheat and use \”dessicated\” coconut – you know processed coconut from the supermarket? I don\’t know if you have it over there. Thanks for the invite to join Foodie Tuesday – I will need to write a foodie blogpost!Have a great week.

  2. You’re welcome, Jill. You can use regular dessicated coconut to make this. Tastes just the same, I think.
    Thanks, hope you have a great week too!

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  4. This is definitely something I want to make, Marcia! Am I really thinking now about all of the different fillings that could be put into the crust too. Sounds so yummy as always! πŸ™‚

  5. Besides looking like a super delicious pastry, the gizzada has quite a history. At first, the name didn’t sound too appetizing to me, but the photo and description sold me.

  6. Sounds delicious. I might try the recipe one day, but I have a problem finding pure vanilla in my local supermarkets . Can one use substitute vanilla?

  7. Hi Marcia, I wasn’t hungry too until I saw picture of gizzada. It looks and sounds delicious. I like coconut-y pastries. And I like how you always trace the history of food.

  8. Is there a way to cheat? I’m referring to grating the coconut. Is fresh the only way to go?

    How about Jamiacan Totos – is that the right word? It’s a treat I’ve had from the Kensington Market in Toronto and I would love an authentic recipe for it.

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