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Cookies with Nuts
Biscottini di pistacchi
Biscottini di pistacchi (using pistachio nuts, eggs, sugar, flour and flavored with citrus peel)
Originated from: Naples, Campania, Italy
Occasion: Any time & special times
Contributed by: Taken from "Cucina Teorico-pratica" by Ippolito Cavalcanti (1839).

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3 ounces pistachio nuts
1 1/2 ounces of citrus syrup
A bit of green citrus peel, shredded
3 1/2 ounces of fine sugar
1 egg white, beaten stiff
2 egg yolks
6 egg whites beaten stiff
1 tablespoon of fine flour

Icing sugar

Original Italian Text
once tre di pistacchi
un oncia e mezzo di cedro sciroppato
un poco di cedro verde grattugiato***
un chiaro d'ovi battuto
once tre e mezzo di aucchero fino
due rossi d'ovi
sei chiara d'ovi
un cucciaroino di fior di farine
li polverizze rai con zucchero

*** Technically, the word "cedro" can be translated as "cedar" or as "citrus." Sometimes Italian cookbook translators decide that the word "cedro" is calling for "candied cedar" rather than citrus peel or candied citrus/citron. In any case, both products: citrus fruit (which is neither an orange or a lemon, but a fruit in its own right) and candied cedar are almost impossible to find in North America.


Make a paste with 3 ounces pistachio nuts which have been placed in hot water and then dried with a linen cloth, one and half ounces of citrus syrup and a bit of green citrus peel, shredded.

Mix the resulting paste with 1 egg white which has been beaten stiff.

Then add three and half ounces of fine sugar, two egg yolks and 6 egg whites which have been beaten stiff and one tablespoon of fine flour.

Place the mixture in paper [baking] cups or molds that have varying shapes, rolling them in sugar.

Bake in low heat.


Top with icing sugar.

Original Italian Text

"Prendi once tre di pistacchi, che netterai con acqua calda, li farai agocciolare asciugandoli con panno lino, dipoi li pesterai benissimo assieme con un oncia e mezzo di cedro sciroppato, ed un poco di cedro verde grattugiato; questa pasta la bagnerai piu volte, con un chiaro d'ovi battuto, di poi, verserai la composizione in un vase con once tre e mezzo di aucchero fino, e due rossi d'ovi, battendo tutte inseieme cos un mescola sintanto sia tutto incorporato; dipoi batterai alla fiocca sei chiara d'ovi, ci unirai un cucciaroino di fior di farine, e mescolerai tutto insieme con la precedente composizione, farai delle formete di carta, in dove ci porrai la composizione, oppure la distenderai su de fogli di carta bianca, in tanti punti formandone diversi biscottini, li polverizze rai con zucchero, e ad un forno lento li farai cuocere."


The recipe in this entry was taken from the book, "Cucina Teorico-pratica" by Ippolito Cavalcanti (Naples: Di G. Palma, 1839). For the complete copyright-free Italian cookbook visit www.archive.org.... P.S. I tried this recipe but as I didn't use the exact proportions indicated, I can't say whether it works or not. All I can say is that the pistachio biscottini I came up with had a really nice flavor. I had to alter the recipe because I didn't have access to "citrus" syrup or "citrus" peel (Apparently, "citrus" is a fruit all on its own; nowadays the word, "citrus," is generally used as generic catch all term that includes lemons, limes and oranges but in the 19th century "cedro" -- "citrus" -- referred to a specific yellow or green fruit. However, "cedro," is sometimes translated as "candied cedar." "Candied cedar" doesn't seem to be available in North America. As neither citrus or candied cedro can be used; the alternative is to use candied citron or lemon zest.). Not having "cedro" I used lemon zest. Also, because I was suspicious of the small amount of flour asked for in the recipe (Uses only 1 tablespoon!) I used a lot more than that. I was worried I would end up with a meringue-style sweet which I don't like, and am not too good at making. In any case, I adapted the recipe and managed to come up with something I really liked. Prior to doing this recipe I had associated pistachios with Middle Eastern cooking, in fact, I had assumed that any Italian recipe that included pistachios couldn't possibly be "traditional." Was I wrong! Even though I knew very well that what was "traditional" in one region was not "traditional" in another, and that "traditional" was not necessarily limited to what was "simple" and "uncomplicated" I still had that sense that Italians prefer run-of-the-mill desserts (Fresh fruit being on the top of the must-have list!) -- a common misconception. Time to wise up.... Comments and photo: Mary Melfi.

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