As we approach the festival of Halloween, we wanted to share with you a fantastic traditional recipe that will take centre place at your Halloween party, and a biscotto to die for!
Ossa dei Morti, which translates to Bones of the Dead, is a traditional biscotto that is baked throughout Italy, not to celebrate Halloween, but to remember family members and close loved ones who have passed on the 2nd of November, All Souls Day.
The name of the biscotto lends itself more to their shape, rather than the day on which they are eaten, and as you can see, they do resemble a pile of old bones.
As with many Italian biscotto, each of the countries twenty regions, have slight variations on Ossa dei Morti, but it is widely accepted that the origins of this biscotto come from the region of Calabria and also from the Island of Sicily.
These hard crunchy biscotti are usually enjoyed with a favourite cup of coffee, milk or hot chocolate and are a perfect shape and consistency for dunking. They are often enjoyed after a meal and are paired well with a dessert wine.
Once baked, they will remain fresh for up to one week in an airtight container. Here is the recipe I use. I hope you enjoy making them.
Ossa dei Morti: Bones of the Dead
- 140g ground almonds
- 96g caster sugar
- Zest of half a lemon
- 2 egg whites (from large eggs)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 190g plain flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- powdered sugar (for dusting)
Place the ground almonds, 32g sugar and lemon zest in a bowl and mix together
In a medium size bowl, whip the egg whites with the remaining sugar just until you get a white and shiny mixture.
Stir in both the vanilla and almond extracts.
Add the ground almond mixture, plain flour and baking powder to the egg white mixture and stir until well combined
Transfer the dough to a work surface and knead until you get a compact dough.
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius/ gas mark 4
Shape the Dough into Bones
Cut off pieces of dough and roll into logs about 3/4 inch in diameter and 12 inches long.
Cut the rope roughly into equal pieces.
Using 1 piece at a time, place your index and middle finger over the centre of the dough and gently roll with a back-and-forth motion. (The centre will thin out while leaving the ends slightly bigger and rounder.)
If it gets too sticky you can lightly dust your work surface with a small amount of plain flour if needed.
While holding the rolled dough with one hand, use the other hand to gently push in each end with your free index finger. (This will give the appearance of old bones)
Transfer the shaped cookies onto the prepared baking sheet.
Bake in the preheated oven for about 10 minutes for a softer and chewier biscotto or up to 15 minutes for a crunchier texture
Let them cool completely and dust with icing sugar.