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Cookies with Nuts
Biscottini di mandorle dolce
Biscottini di mandorle dolce (Neapolitan cookies made with blanched sweet almonds, flour, sugar and eggs)
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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4 ounces of almonds, blanched
4 ounces of refined sugar
1 ounce of fine quality flour
3 egg yolks
4 egg whites, beaten stiff
powdered sugar for topping

equipment needed: paper baking cups or molds

Original Italian text
once quattro di mandorle
pochino di zucchero
once quattro di zuccheero raffinato
un oncia di fior di farina
tre torli d'ovi freschi
quattro chiara d'ovi
zucchero polverizzato


Take 4 ounces of almonds and remove the skins by boiling them and then drying them.

Grind the almonds in a mortar with a touch of sugar.

Beat the sugar and egg yolks until creamy.

Add the ground almonds to the mixture.

Beat the egg whites until stiff and then add them to the almond-sugar-egg mixture.

Place the batter into paper baking cups or in molds.

Top with powdered sugar.

Bake in a slow oven.

Remove from baking molds, and serve.

Original Italian Text

Prendi once quattro di mandorle le scorzerai con acqua bollente, le pesterai bene nel mortaio con un pochino di zucchero, perche non diano oglio, dopo di averle bene affinate, ridotte in pasta, ci unirai once quattro di zuccheero raffinato, un oncia di fior di farina, e tre torli d'ovi freschi, e batterai tutto insoeme per un quatro d'ora, dipoi batterai alla fiocca quattro chiara d'ovi, e giunta a perfezione la fiocca, togliendone tutto l'umido, la mescolerai con la compasizione precedente; farai delle formette di carta, o quelle di latta, che vernicerai di butiro, ed in esse ci porrai la dose, che farai cuocere lentamente al forno, coprendole di zucchero polverizzato, e quando saranno ben coloriti, ancora caldi li toglierai dalla carta o altra forma.


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 these cookies and they are quite pleasant, not in dramatic way, of course, as they don't include much flavoring, but they are nice enough. Most of Cavalcanti's cookie recipes don't include a lot of flour, but they do use a lot of eggs (Great for those who follow a high-protein diet!). Also, in most of Cavalcanti's cookie recipes the egg whites are beaten stiff, and the egg yolks are creamed with sugar. The reason for this is simple -- in the first half of the 19th century baking powder was not in use, it only became popular round 1903. Wikipedia notes: "Early chemical leavening was accomplished by activating baking soda in the presence of liquid(s) and an acid such as sour milk, vinegar, lemon juice, or cream of tartar. These acidulants all react with baking soda quickly, meaning that retention of gas bubbles was dependent on batter viscosity and that it was critical for the batter to be baked before the gas escaped. The development of baking powder created a system where the gas-producing reactions could be delayed until needed. While various baking powders were sold in the first half of the 19th century, our modern variants were discovered by Alfred Bird in 1843. August Oetker, a German pharmacist, made baking powder very popular when he began selling his mixture to housewives. The recipe he created in 1891 is still sold in Germany. Oetker started the mass production of baking powder in 1898 and patented his technique in 1903...." So back in 1836 when Cavalcanti published his now famous book, the only way a home cook could get cookies to have that "light airy" texture beloved by one and all was by creaming the egg yolks and beating the egg whites to a stiff mountain peak. Nowadays this doesn't require much effort (Electric egg beaters do all the work!), but back then, cooks and their assistants had it tough (I vaguely recall that in the 1960s when my Zia Teresa made cookies, as she didn't then own an egg beater, she used two forks to beat her egg whites to a stiff peak -- it would take her about half of an hour, and she did not stop for a second!). The 21st century does have its perks. Thank God for Hydro Quebec and its many global clones. Comments and photo: Mary Melfi.

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