They are, as regular readers will know, frutti di Martorana. They are made from pasta reale [almond paste] Legend has it that the first ever batch of Martorana fruit was made on the orders of the mother superior of the Martorana Convent in Palermo. She had wanted to impress her bishop during his visit so the nuns obediently prepared the “fruit” and hung it from the cloister trees; so “real” did it look that the bishop declared that a miracle had happened, as all the fruits had appeared in the same season!
On 2nd November, I Morti [the Day of the Dead] children receive Martorana fruit as presents from deceased relatives who still wish to watch over them. Some think that this tradition is morbid but it seems to help children to accept the transitory nature of this life.
Sadly, the Martorana Convent has long gone but the Church of Santa Maria dell'Ammiraglio, of which it was a part, still stands and is often called the Martorana. It is part of this.