Sicilian Chocolate Cookies from Modica
Makes 5 1/2 dozen
This cookie from my newest cookbook, Ciao Italia, My Lifelong Food Adventures in Italy, is an antique recipe from the town of Modica
where chocolate is of the finest quality. Don’t be surprised by one of the ingredients. These are delicious.
3½ cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
1½ cup sugar, divided
1/8 teaspoon salt
½ cup Crisco or lard
1 large egg, lightly beaten with a fork
½ cup Marsala wine
2 tablespoons water
1½ cups sliced almonds
3½ ounce bitter, dark chocolate bar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
¼ pound lean, very finely ground veal
2 large egg whites
1. Add the flour, ½ cup sugar, salt, and Crisco or lard to the bowl of a food processor and pulse 3–4 times. Add the egg through the feed tube with the Marsala wine, and process until a ball of dough begins to form. Add the water and continue processing; if the mixture seems dry, add additional water until the dough is moist, but not sticky, and holds together when squeezed between your fingers. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour.
2. Place the almonds in the bowl of a food processor, and grind them until fine but not powdery. Transfer the almonds to a bowl.
3. Break up the chocolate, add it to the food processor and process until the chocolate is in small pieces. Transfer it to the bowl with the almonds. Add the cinnamon, 1 cup sugar and lemon zest to the almond mixture, and stir to combine. Set aside.
4. Cook the veal in a medium, nonstick sauté pan until it turns gray. Transfer the meat to a food processor and pulse until it is very fine. Return the meat to the sauté pan.
5. Add the almond mixture to the meat, and cook over low heat just until the chocolate begins to melt and the mixture is well coated with the chocolate. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and set aside to cool for 5 minutes.
6. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form; fold the egg whites into the cooled almond and meat mixture until well blended and the mixture looks shiny. Set aside.
7. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Divide the dough into 4 pieces and work with 1 piece at a time, keeping the rest covered. Roll dough out to a thickness of about 1/8-inch. Use a 3½-inch, round cookie cutter to cut circles.
8. Place a generous tablespoon of the filling in the center of each round. Moisten the edges with a little water. Fold in half to make a turnover and pinch the edges closed. Place the cookies on parchment-lined baking sheets. Use a scissors to make a slit in the center of each one.
9. Bake for 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely and dust the tops with confectioners’ sugar.
Note: These cookies can be made a few days ahead and stored in an airtight container or frozen without confectioners’ sugar for up to 2 months. Dust with confectioners’ sugar when ready to serve.