Bones of the Dead
Ossi dei Morti
MAKES 1½ DOZEN
These cookies are brittle and dry like old bones. They are made all over Italy around November 1 and 2 to celebrate All Souls’ Day, in remembrance of deceased relatives. Don’t let their name turn you off. They are unusual to look at, delicious to eat, and a real conversation piece.
2 large egg whites, at room temperature
2/3 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons fine semolina flour
2/3 cup coarsely chopped semisweet or milk chocolate
3/4 cup coarsely chopped blanched almonds
2/3 cup coarsely chopped semisweet chocolate
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
Preheat oven to 300ºF. Generously grease and flour your cookie sheets, or line with parchment paper.
In a glass or copper bowl, whip the egg whites until stiff peaks begin to form. Slowly add half the sugar a little at a time, beating until well incorporated and the whites are stiff and shiny. With a spatula, sprinkle the remaining sugar, semolina flour, chocolate, and almonds over the egg whites and fold in with a rubber spatula.
Using 2 teaspoons, use a small portion of batter to form bone-shaped cookies about 3 inches long and 1½ inches wide. (I use a cardboard template of a bone and trace it with a pencil onto the underside of the parchment paper, then fill in the space with the batter.) Space the cookies about 1 inch apart.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until the cookies are fairly dry but still pale looking. Cool on sheets, then transfer carefully to a cooling rack.
Fill the bottom of a double boiler with water and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat, add the chocolate and butter to the top of the double boiler, cover, and let stand for 10 to 15 minutes or until the chocolate and butter are melted.
Stir the frosting well. Dip the underside of each cookie into the frosting and, while still wet, make wavy lines through the chocolate with a fork or a frosting comb. Let the cookies dry completely.