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Cookies with Nuts
Pepatelli or papatill or mbeptielle Molisani
Pepatello / Pepatelli / Pappatill / Papatilli/ Mbeptielle (Spicy biscotti with almonds, honey, pepper and orange zest)
Originated from: Abruzzo and Molise
Occasion: Christmas
Contributed by: Taken from the Italian Wikipedia

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Pepatello / Pepatelli / Papptill*
1 1/2 kilo (about 3 pounds) flour
1 1/2 kilo (about 3 pounds) honey
500 grams (about 1 pound) whole almonds
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 tablespoon ground pepper
Finely grated zest of 2 oranges

Original Italian text
1 kg e 1/2 farina
1 kg e 1/2 miele
500 gr. mandorle intere
2 cucciai cacao
1 cucchiaio pepe macinato
2 buccia grattugiata arance

*In Molise this style of biscotti is known as "Mbeptielle Molisani"


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Line a baking pan with parchment paper.

Lightly roast the almonds (For Version II).

Chop almonds.

Warm up honey.

Remove the honey from heat then add the finely grated orange zest, pepper and cocoa powder.

Add butter (for Version II only).

Add flour and mix.

Add the chopped almonds.

Add enough water to make a firm dough (for Version II only).

Form the dough into thin small-sized biscotti logs -- about 8 inches long, 2 1/2 inches wide, and 1 inch high (The number of logs obtained will depend on the amount of flour and honey used, as well as the size of the logs).

Place the logs on the baking pan lined with parchment.

Using the palm of your hand flatten the biscotti logs a little.

Bake in the oven until ready -- about 25 minutes.

Remove from the oven and while the biscotti logs are still warm, using a very sharp knife, cut into very thin slices, no more than a 1/4 inch thick. DO NOT RE-BAKE.


Store in the fridge in a plastic bag, tied with a twist, until needed.


"Pepatelli" cookies have a very unusual flavor; despite the large amount of honey present in the Wikipedia recipe, they don't taste sweet. Still, many people seem to love them, though I have to admit I don't love them at all. Well, I certainly don't love the cookies that I managed to get from Wikipedia's recipe -- one that is copied over and over on a variety of internet cooking sites. When I was growing up, in the 1960s, my late aunt who married a man from the Abruzzi region used to make these cookies following her mother-in-law's recipe. My late aunt's "pepatelli" were quite tasty -- a bit unusual, but nice enough. They were soft -- in fact, very soft, and not at all like the jaw-breakers that Wikipedia's recipe seems to suggest they should be like. In any case, because my late aunt's cookies were perceived as being from Abruzzi rather than from Molise, the members of my immediate family didn't take much interest in them. No one wrote down her recipe. Recently I learnt that "pepatelli" cookies are also part of Molise's culinary heritage. Even though those from my immediate family didn't make these spicy cookies, others in Molise did. It seems there is even a special name for these cookies, they're called, "Mbeptielle Molisani." All I can say is that the "pepatelli" my late aunt made and I had the pleasure to eat were sweeter, softer and a lot more pleasant than the ones made with the Wikipedia recipe in this entry. As already noted this particular Wikipedia recipe pops up over and over on many Italian internet cooking sites. It's hard to say if this is the "traditional" way of doing these cookies or if it's just a recipe that has been copied and re-copied too many times. I wish I had my late aunt's recipe but I don't. Her daughter, my cousin, believes that her mother's recipe might include eggs but she is not sure. If I were to do this particular "pepatelli" recipe again (But I won't!) I would change the recipe -- I would add sugar and as suggested by another home cook from Molise, water. The present Wikipedia recipe is easy to do, but in my opinion not worth doing. If I were in the mood of eating spicy Italian cookies I would make "mostaccioli" cookies -- now, they use almost the same ingredients as "pepetelli", but unlike "pepatelli" cookies they are quite edible, in fact, they are delicious in every which way. On the other hand for those who like exotic foods with a Middle Eastern flavor, the recipe in this entry taken from the Italian Wikipedia might be an interesting one to try out. It's possible I did it wrong ((It won't be the first time I failed to get it right!). Personal Comments and Photo: Mary Melfi...... The following text was taken from the Italian Wikipedia (Machine google translation): "The pepatelli (locally called pappatill) Christmas cakes are typical Abruzzi rectangular in shape, so called because of the presence of pepper in the dough. Heat the honey over low heat and stir in the meantime. Just starts to simmer, add chopped almonds, grated orange peel, pepper and flour, the latter two ingredients, along with honey, will form the dough. After being mixed, pour the mixture on a baking sheet and cut to form rectangles of length not exceeding 10 cm and a width of about 1 cm." Original text: Pepatelli Da Wikipedia, l'enciclopedia libera. Origini Luogo d'origine Italia Italia Regioni Abruzzo Molise Zona di produzione Teramo Dettagli Categoria dolce Riconoscimento P.A.T. Settore biscotti freschi e prodotti della panetteria e della biscotteria Ingredienti principali farina, miele, cacao, mandorle intere, buccia d'arancio grattugiata, pepe macinato Varianti "mbepetielle" molisani I pepatelli (localmente chiamati pappatill) sono dolci natalizi tipici abruzzesi di forma rettangolare, così chiamati per la presenza di pepe nell'impasto. Fate scaldare il miele a fuoco lento e nel frattempo mescolate. Appena inizierà a sobbollire, aggiungete mandorle tritate, scorza di arancia grattugiata, pepe e farina; questi ultimi due ingredienti, insieme al miele, formeranno l'impasto. Dopo averlo mescolato, versate l'impasto su una teglia e tagliatelo in modo da formare dei rettangoli di lunghezza non superiore ai 10 cm e larghezza di circa 1 cm."

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