The Calabrian town of Mormanno is famous for sweet pastry tartlets called bocconotti, a word that literally means “small bites”, because they can be eaten in one bite. They are traditionally filled with grape jam or cherry preserves and covered with pastry dough. I baked a couple of them with grape jam (mostarda d’uva) so you can see what they look like.
Someone wrote to me last week saying that her relatives in Rende used to make bocconotti with an almond chocolate filling, and wondered if I had a recipe for them. I had never heard of this particular filling for them, so I promised her that I would do some research in my collection of Calabrian cookbooks and pamphlets. These books, by the way, are usually self-published, very small, and always have recipes for local food. You can usually find them in little stores and markets in Calabria.
I went through my collection and lo and behold, I found a recipe for bocconotti from Amantea, in the province of Cosenza, that are filled with almonds and chocolate. They sometimes have a bit of cinnamon and cloves when they are made at Christmas time. I also found other recipes for bocconotti with just an almond filling, like a frangipane.
Unfortunately a typical Italian cookbook usually gives you the ingredients but not all the amounts, so in a way I had to create my own recipe for the filling. I used my basic recipe for the pastry dough. I like the traditional bocconotti filled with jam but these are even better, a heavenly treat, especially when made with cocoa and good dark chocolate like Valhrona. I made them without a pastry cover as you see in some recipes, but you can add a cover of pastry dough to look like the traditional ones from Mormanno.
Make a batch of my pastry dough as follows in the recipe below. Take a small amount about the size of a ping pong ball and using your fingers press the dough into 1 1/2" tartlet forms (measured across the bottom). Trim the edges.
To make the filling, grind all the dry ingredients in a food processor.
Make sure you grind the whole almonds with the rest of the dry ingredients until very fine.
Beat the egg whites until stiff and fold in the dry ingredients, about a quarter at a time. You should have a thick fluffy batter.
Spoon the batter into the dough-lined tartlet shells and bake for 15–18 minutes at 375 F.
Here are my beautiful bocconotti dusted with powdered sugar.
The bocconotti in the center are the traditional shape covered with pastry dough. If you prefer, you can fill them with any jam you like, or with Nutella. Below are the bocconotti with the chocolate almond filling.
If you make them let me know what you think.
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch kosher salt
4 ounces unsalted butter, chilled, cut into tablespoon-size pieces
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup almonds, about 3 ounces
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 ounces dark chocolate
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch of ground cloves
2 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Make the dough: Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a food processor. Pulse several times to blend. Add the butter and pulse four to five times, until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, egg yolk, and lemon zest. With the food processor running, add the egg mixture through the feed tube. Process just until the dough begins to come together.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it gently, just until it comes together into a ball. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours. If refrigerated for more than 1 hour, you will need to soften the dough slightly by removing it from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before you plan to use it.
Preheat the oven to 375° F
Make the filling: Place all the dry ingredients in a food processor and grind them until you have a fine powder. Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold in the dry ingredients in the egg whites, about ¼ at a time. When all the dried ingredients are folded in the egg whites, add the vanilla and stir.
Take a small amount of dough, about the size of a ping pong ball, and using your fingers press it into the tartlet mold up against the edges. Trim excess dough. When all the tartlets are done, place a heaped tablespoon of filling in each tartlet. Place all the filled tartlets on top a cookie sheet and bake at 375F for 15 to 18 minutes until the dough is lightly colored.
Cool on a rack. When cool remove the bocconotti from the tartlet forms. Dust with powder sugar.
Makes 16 bocconotti
Copyright 2010, Rosetta Costantino. All rights reserved.