Borgomanero is a sleepy little town where I often stop when visiting Lake Orta in Northern Italy. One of the local specialties is tapulon, a stew made with donkey meat which I haven't been able to bring myself to taste. I have no problem with the cookies called ossa da mordere ("bones to chew"), however.
The only thing these hard, crunchy cookies have in common with bones is their appearance, which is dry and somewhat bone-shaped. They keep forever and taste great dipped into a glass of sweet wine. I always bring a sack of them home wiht me along with another local favorite, brutti ma buoni, "ugly but good" cookies.
Ossa da mordere are made in practically every region of Italy and there are many variations. Some are called ossa di morte, "bones of the dead," and are served on November 1, the Feast of All Saints.
Makes 4 dozen
3 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups chopped blanched almonds
1/4 cup milk
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter two large baking sheets.
2. In the large bowl of an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the sugar, cinnamon, lemon zest, baking powder, nutmeg, and cloves and beat until well blended. Stir in the flour and almonds.
3. Gather about 2 1/2 tablespoons of dough in the palm of your hand and roll it into a 2 1/2- by 1/2-inch log. Repeat with remaining dough, placing the logs 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheets.
4. Brush the tops with the milk. Bake for 20 minutes, or until lightly browned. Transfer to wire racks to cool.
La Dolve Vita by Michele Scicolone
Submitted by samuel
on 11th Jan 2009 22:31