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Cookies without Nuts
biscotti alla provenzale
Biscotti alla provenzale (Neapolitan cookies, using flour, sugar, eggs, orange marmalade; flavored with citrus)
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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2 tablespoons of orange marmalade
Green citrus rind, shredded*
1/2 pound of refined sugar, twice sifted
4 egg yolks
8 egg whites
3 ounces of flour

Egg white
Citrus zest*

*If citrus is unavailable, candied citron, lemon or lime can be used.

Original Italian text
due cucchiai di marmellata d'arancio
un pochino di corteccia di cedro verde grattugiata***
mezza libbra di zucchero doppio raffinato
Quattro torli d'ovi freschi
otto chiara d ovi ch
tre once di fior di farina

un piccolo ghiaccio di zucchero
fiocca di chiara d'ovi
raspatura di cedro***

*** 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 this recipe citrus peel makes more sense than edible cedar bark. 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.


Take two tablespoons of orange marmalade, a little citrus rind, half a pound of refined sugar twice passed through a sieve, four egg yolks, and cream everything together for half an hour [by hand].

Then beat 8 egg whites till they are stiff, then mix 3 ounces of flour to the mixture.

Add the other ingredients, and place the batter in a paper container made for baking biscotti.

Cook slowly and wait for the mixture to raise.

Remove and cool.

To make the icing, beat an egg white till it is stiff, add sugar and flavor it with citrus zest.

Spreading the icing on the biscotti [loaf].

Place the biscotti [loaf] back into the oven, and let it cook in low heat until the icing is dry.

Remove from oven, and cut the biscotti while the loaf is still warm.

Original Italian Text

Prendi due cucchiai di marmellata d'arancio, un pochino di corteccia di cedro verde grattugiata, mezza libbra di zucchero doppio raffinato passato per setaccio, Quattro torli d'ovi freschi, e batterai bene il tutto con una mescola per mezz ora, di poi batterai alla fiocca otto chiara d ovi che unirai alla composizione con tre once di fior di farina che ce la introdurrai faccendola cadere per un setaccio affinche vi cada uguale e non si aggruppisca ; farai de modelli di carta, o formette, in dove porrai la detta composizione, facendo cuocre li biscotti in un forno a calor lento, e quando li avarai levati dal forno,

Farai un piccolo ghiaccio di zucchero, con fiocca di chiara d'ovi, e raspatura di cedro, e con questo vernicerai li bisocttini, che rimetterai nel forno, onde si secchi soltanto questo naspro; appena sono perfezionati li biscottini li toglierai dalla carta ancor caldi.


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 using lemon zest as I couldn't find fresh citrus anywhere, nor could I find candied citron. According to Italian-English dictionaries, the Italian word "cedro" means "cedar" in English. The word is never translated as "citrus." However, the English word, "citrus," is translated in English-Italian dictionaries as "cedro." As "citrus" does come up in Middle-Eastern recipes and other types of cooking, it's more likely that "cedro" is "citrus" rather than "cedar." Actually, I found the word, "cedro" translated in an old Italian-American cookbook; the word, "cedro," was translated as "citrus" (That's how I figured out its meaning). As "cedro" is an important part of this recipe and as I didn't have it, I have no idea what it might taste it in the original version. For this recipe I used lime zest (as the recipe calls for "green" citrus); in all honestly I didn't like this lime-y flavor (Not one for American Southern Lime Pie!). Had I used lemon zest, these cookies would have been quite O.K. (Cause that's what I really am into). "Biscotti alla provenzale" have a sponge cake quality to them. Nowadays, in North America, the word, biscotti, is associated with Tuscan-style sliced almond cookies that are often as hard as rock. Back in the 19th century, the word, biscotti, was used as a generic term for any kind of cookie, twice-baked or not. For those who prefer soft-style cookies this might be a good recipe to try out. Comments and photo: Mary Melfi.

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