Sunday, October 6, 2013

Fave dei Morti - Beans of the Dead

Fave dei Morti, beans of the dead, are the little bean-shaped cakes that Italians eat on November 2, Il Giorno dei Morti, or All Souls' Day. These small cakes, made of ground almonds and sugar combined with egg, butter, flour, and subtle flavorings, are traditionally eaten throughout Italy on the day that everyone decorates the graves with flowers and says masses for departed souls.

Fave dei Morti, beans of the dead, are rich and delicate little cakes. Despite their macabre origin, you will want them often. Color them orange and serve at Halloween or Thanksgiving parties with ice cream in goblin or pumpkin molds. Or leave them white and store in tightly closed tins, to serve with coffee or tea to unexpected guests.


INGREDIENTS (for 12 small cakes)

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup finely ground almonds (unblanched)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
  • Vegetable coloring, if desired  


    Combine sugar, butter, and ground almonds. Beat egg and add to other ingredients, mixing thoroughly. Add flour and flavoring. Work dough until smooth and make into a roll about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Wrap in waxed paper and refrigerate 2-3 hours. Then cut off bits of dough and mold into kidney-shaped pieces about as big as large lima beans. Bake on greased cookie sheet in moderate oven (350° F.) about 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool 5 minutes before removing from pan with spatula.

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