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Cookies with Nuts
Fave dei Morti (Beans of the Dead)
Fave dei Morti (Beans of the Dead, with almonds, flavored with cinnamon)
Originated from: Lazio, Italy
Occasion: Feast Day of the Dead (Nov. 2nd)
Contributed by: Mary Melfi

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1 cup ground almonds
1/2 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter (melted)
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest

Icing sugar for sprinkling (optional)


Mix sugar, butter and ground almonds.

Mix flour, cinnamon and lemon rind.

Combine butter mixture with flour mixture.

Beat egg and add to butter and flour mixture.

Shape cookie dough into a ball (If the mixture is too soft, add a touch more flour, but do note that this cookie dough is softer than a regular American-style cookie dough -- has the feel of a marzipan).

Either make the "fave dei morti" by taking pieces of the cookie dough and shaping them into large lima beans directly onto a greased cookie sheet, or (what I did) roll out the cookie dough on a floured wooden board to 1/4 inch, then using a "fava bean or mushroom shaped" cookie cutter cut out the cookies.

Place the "fave dei morti" on a greased cookie sheet.*

Bake the cookies in a 325 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes (These cookies burn easily).

Cool before removing.

Sprinkle with icing sugar before serving if you like.

*For best results use aluminum cookie sheets that are sold in "Dollar Shops" [e.g. "Titan Foil"] and then place silicon-based baking mats [e.g. Demarle's Silpat] on top of them. These cheaper aluminum cookie sheets do not conduct heat as well as the more expensive cookie sheets available in specialty shops which surprisingly is a good thing. In aluminum cookware the bottoms of the cookies don't cook faster than the tops, resulting in more evenly-cooked cookies (No burnt cookie bottoms!).


Most cookies and cakes in Italy are associated with some feast day or religious holiday. Like the Mexicans, Southern Italians remember those who have passed away with gifts of food. Well, the gifts are more for their own pleasure than for those who passed away, but at least they take the trouble to do something to remember their loved ones. Generally, On November the 2nd, after visiting the cemetary, "Osi dei Morte" and/or "Fave dei Morti" are served. Well, at least they were routinely served in Sicily prior to World War II. Whether they still are, it's hard to say. Photo: Mary Melfi.

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