These little nuggets of lemon pastry shelled almond goodness are Calabrese bocconotti.

An exterior shell of a mild lemony pasta frolla (of sorts) fashioned from egg yolks, olive oil, and flour inside which is an almond (amaretti type) biscuit filling made even more decadent by the addition of grated dark chocolate and a pinch of cinnamon. Sugar and whipped eggwhite make this nut based interior light and tender.

I use small vintage fluted petit four/tartlette molds bought from an Italian homeware/hardware shop (but the molds are stamped Sweden). They resemble tiny brioche molds.. a picture can be found here.

Like nearly everything else, bocconotti can vary from region to region in Italy. In Rome, they are filled with ricotta and covered with another layer of pastry. Around Italy's ankle, in Potenza, this Carnevale pastry is cut into rounds for straight edge molds and filled with cherry preserves. Bocconotti from Abruzzo are also covered but the filling (jam and ground almonds) is slightly more akin to this Southern interpretation. You'll likely also note a big difference in the recipes is the use of olive oil as oppposed to butter in the North and lard in Basilicata.

As for the actual amount of flour in the Calabrese 'recipe', good luck. It is a rare Calabresella that doesn't go by how the pastry feels and actually measures flour. I start with about 200 grams and add incrementally from there.. I've never truly measured the final amount.. but will pass it along when I make them next. With Christmas looming, that will be soon.

If you are adventurous, already in the know, or simply cannot possibly wait, here is the recipe as I have it. This makes cookies for a small village but you can easily cut it by half, especially if you aren't in possession of between 70-80 molds. The method will follow.

Calabrese Bocconotti

6 egg yolks
6 Tbsp sugar
6 Tbsp olive olio
Flour/farina (see comment above)
2-3 tsp grated lemon zest

6 egg whites, whipped to stiff but not dry peaks
225 grams ground almonds
225 grams sugar
85 grams dark chocolate
pinch cinnamon
1-2 tsp grated lemon zest

Bocconotti are typically served with a liberal dusting of icing or confectionary sugar and are never far from their complementary companion: a steaming cup of espresso.


Shaun said…
Mary ~ I have never heard of bocconotti and was thrilled to read this post. They sound like a perfect morning or afternoon tea pick-me-up or a lighter option for dessert in Winter. The little tart forms are especially cute. I should get some, for there are other small pastries I'd like to make with them.

Happy New Year, by the way.
Mary said…
Thanks Shaun,
These are tasty and the forms are multipurpose. Wee poppyseed covered brioche, tiny molten choc cakes and lemon syrup soaked teacakes.. :)
Hope you are having a wonderful New Year.
Anonymous said…
May I please have the direction on mixing the filling please. Thank you.
Mary said…
Hi Anon,
I premix all the dry ingredients in one bowl and whip the egg whites in another. Then, I put a little (about 1/4 to 1/3) of the egg whites in with the dry ingredients, mixing well and finally, fold in the remaining whites.

If you are grinding your own almonds, I would add some of the sugar during the grinding process to keep them loose/dry/powdery. Worst case scenario is that they become pasty like almond butter.

Hope that helps! Good luck!
Anonymous said…
Thank you Mary. I am going to make these for my niece's wedding. I will let you know what a hit they are!!!
Mary said…
I hope they turn out well (trying a few from evey batch to make sure is just good qualiy control).
They were a favourite at our wedding 5 years ago. Probably the only thing I actually made a conscious effort to eat that day!
All the best!
Jennifer said…
Thanks so much for the information. My grandmother made the cookies every Christmas. She was born and raised in Calabria. I remember she filled them with Lemon curd or grape jelly. When she died I inherited all her molds and have been searching for a recipe. Thanks so much!
Mary said…
Hi Jennifer,
You are most welcome. As they are a reminder of your Nonna, that is most special. I hope they turn out well.
Buon Natale!
Anonymous said…
Can you give more direction on putting pastry dough in molds and how long to bake and temperature please. Also do you have quantity for flour. If you can post pictures showing steps as you make them would appreciate it - please!!
Anonymous said…
Hi Mary, Have you ever gotten around to measuring the exact quantity for your Bocconotti recipe? My mother-in-law used to make these and she passed away years back from cancer. I have been looking for this recipe for years and yours are the only ones that look and sound exactly like hers! Anything you can give me would help greatly Thank-you!
Mary said…
Hello Anon,

I wish I had.. it's been full on here since I'm a few months back to work after our new addition.. However it IS Christmas and I'd love to help. I'll see what I can do in the next wee while.

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