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Cookies without Nuts
lemon biscotti
Pasticci Cookies (Molisani Lemon Biscotti, without nuts, soft-style, using lard and lemon juice)
Originated from: Casacalenda, Molise, Italy
Occasion: Special events
Contributed by: Mary Melfi (Zia Teresa's recipe)

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Version I: New & Improved (2013)
For batter (Makes about 20 "soft-style" biscotti)
3 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup melted lard (e.g. Tenderflake)
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
Zest of 1 small lemon mixed with 2 tablespoons sugar

For topping
1 egg white, beaten
about 1/4 cup table sugar

Equipment needed:
A well-greased rectangular pan -- about 18 inches by 6 inches

Version II: Original Version (2008)
For batter
3 extra large eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup melted lard (e.g. Tenderflake)
1 1/2 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
Juice of 1 small lemon

Equipment needed
A well-greased rectangular pan -- about 14 inches by 6 inches


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Using your fingertips, mix lemon zest with sugar (for Version I).

Melt lard. Cool it down (If the lard is not cooled, the eggs start to cook, damaging the cookies.).

In a separate bowl beat eggs.

Mix eggs and sugar together a touch frothy, but not creamy (about 2 minutes).

Add lemon zest and melted lard to the egg mixture (The zest is used for Version I; for Version II, lemon juice is added instead of the juice).

Slowly add flour and mix.

Add baking powder. Mix well.

Pour the batter into a long, thin shallow well-greased pan about 16 inches long and five or six inches wide (The uncooked batter shouldn't be more than an one inch high in the pan as it will increase substantially in size in the oven).

Brush the top of the cookie batter with beaten egg (for Version I).

Sprinkle some sugar on the top of the cookie batter (for Version I).

Bake in 350 F. degrees oven until the dough is done -- about 20 to 25 minutes.

Cool in the pan for about 8 minutes.

Remove from pan.

Cut into even slices.

Place the biscotti slices on a cookie sheet, flat side down, and bake in a 325 F. degrees oven for about 5 minutes.

Turn the biscotti over and bake for another 5 minutes, or until both sides are golden.


My late uncle, Zio Raphael, used to love these biscotti and now I know why. Finally, I was able to reproduce my aunt's famous nut-free lemon biscotti recipe, and it is absolutely irresistible. This recipe is a variant of Molise's famous "pasticci" cookies (The word, "pasticcio," or "pasticc'" is a generic word for cookie in Molisani dialect). "Pasticci" cookies generally come in a round shape, but my aunt (and I suppose other women) used the cookie dough and made twice-baked style of biscotti with it as well. These biscotti have a soft texture -- they're not the hard jaw-breaker kind that North Americans have become used to. According to food historians a "biscotti" is any type of Italian cookie (including a taralli) that is baked twice. However, back in the 1930s, in the Molisani countryside, a biscotti was just another generic name for cookie, any type of cookie, twice-baked or not. Twice-baked cookies give indifferent cooks (like myself) two chances at getting the recipe right. If the batter doesn't cook well enough the first time, or part of it cracks, whatever, then you can fix the problem the second time around. If you're looking for a great-tasting nut-free biscotti, this recipe might be it. The original version of this recipe was taken from my cousins' files; recently, I decided to adapt the recipe to suit my own personal taste. Preferring lemon zest to lemon juice I went with that. Most recipes can be modified and personalized, and this one is no exception.... Comments and photo: Mary Melfi.

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