Lenten Biscuits

(“Quaresimali”)


 


The name Quaresimali derives from the word Quaresima, Lent. The biscuits called Quaresimali were traditionally made is Sicily during Lent this being the reason that these crunchy and light cookies do not contain any animal fat or butter prohibited during Lent by religious dietary laws.
At present the Quaresimali are made all year around and because they stay fresh in an air tight container, they are very popular and kept in every pantry.
Best enjoyed by the young with a glass of milk ‘macchiato” (a light cappuccino) or by the grown-ups with Marsala wine or a Moscato di Pantelleria or any other sweet fortified wine.

 

Makes about 8 doz. cookies

 Quaresimali

Ingredients:

  •  5 cups flour 
  •  1 1/2  lbs. lightly toasted almonds roughly chopped 
  •  3 cups sugar
  •  ½ cup of honey                                                
  •  8 medium eggs 
  •  ½ teaspoon of carbonate ammonia powder 
  •  1 cup diced orange peels 
  •  zest of orange 
  •  zest of lemon 
  •  1 inch cinnamon stick, chopped (or 1 teaspoon of poweder)
  •  ½  teaspoon of ground cloves 
  • 1 egg for egg washing & 1 tablespoon of water
  • 1 cup of flour for dusting or adding extra 

If carbonate ammonia powder is not available use ½ teaspoon of baking soda and  1 teaspoon of baking powder

 

Preparation

The Dough
In the center of the working table moud the flour, sugar, and the chopped almonds. Make a well and place the eggs in it, and with the help of a fork whisk them lightly, then add the honey, the carbonate ammonia powder,  orange peels, cinnamon. ground clove, orange and lemon zest. Mix all ingredients well using your hands.
Mixture should not be too dry but you should be able to handle it.
If mixture is too dry add 1 egg, if too watery add some flour.
Prepare pan: cover cookie sheets with parchment paper or grease and dust with sufficient flour.

 

The Quaresimali
Dust working table with extra flour and divide the dough in 2 parts and each pieces in 3 parts: a total of 6 pieces.
Shape each piece into a loaf about 10 by 2 inches and place on the cookie sheet, a few inches apart from each other ; press down to make the loafs 1 inch thick.

 

The Baking
Beat 1 egg with 1 tablespoon of water to make the egg wash.
With the help of a brush go over cookies with the egg wash and bake at 375 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes or until cookies are a golden color.
Cool a few minutes and using a serrated knife cut it into ½ inch slices.
Place each piece into pans, cut side down and place in the oven for additional 10 minutes at 300 degrees.
Cool and store in an airtight container.

 

                          Quaresimali & Wine