Many moons ago, when I used to ski with school friends on the slopes of Abruzzo, I use to love stopping in cafes and enjoy a hot chocolate with one of the local chocolate cakes called bocconotti.
Since this year we will unusually not spend Christmas in the region, and will not be skiing and eating those delicacies, I was feeling a little ‘homesick’ and decided to give them a try.
In fact, even on Danilo Cortellini’s recently published recipe book 4 Grosvenor Square there is a version for these traditional cakes. I realised that, depending on the area of the region there are slight variations, whether made with just chocolate or made using grape jam like in Danilo’s case.
I mixed and matched, trying to recreate what my memory had in mind and the result is quite close to what I remember. If it didn’t bring back the sunny slopes, it did bring back good memories!
For the pastry:
250gr white four
50gr spelt & rye flour
80gr golden caster sugar
2 free range eggs
120ml extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp desert wine ( used Constantia Klein)
lemon zest,1 lemon
For the filling:
70gr toasted almonds, skin on
70gr organic unsweetened cocoa powder
15gr caster sugar
15gr golden caster sugar
40gr almond flour
4 tbsp milk
1 single espresso, strong
a pinch of cinnamon
2 dry biscuit (Colussi)
1 tbsp almond chocolate spread (I used Pariani)
Maraschno cherries (optional)
2 tbsp grape jam
In a stand mixer or by hand in a bowl mix the flours, the eggs, the sweet wine, the lemon zest, the sugar and finally the olive oil until you have a smooth pastry. Wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.Toast the almonds lightly without burning them; whizz them up in a blender (I used the milling blades in my Nutribullet) then add the dry biscuits, the cocoa powder and then all the other
ingredients until the paste is well mixed. It will be grainy which is fine; if too runny, add cocoa powder, if you like it sweeter, add a spoon or two of sugar extra. Heat up the oven to 170c fan. Using a low pie case, lightly oil each case base. On a lightly floured surface, roll the pastry a piece at a time to a thickness of about 3mm.
Cut into roundels to fill each base up to the rim and with your wet fingers, make sure there are
no air pockets underneath and the pastry is adhering to the edges. Finally fill each one with about a teaspoon of chocolate filling, smoothing the surface. If using, add a maraschino cherry in each, right in the middle. Cut further discs in pastry (smaller in size) and cover up each bocconotto ensuring the pastry is mixed with the edges of the bottom disc to avoid spilling. Bake in the hot over for about 20 mins until golden brown. Remove from the oven, cool down and then remove from the baking tray and into a serving dish, sprinkling them with plenty of icing sugar.
For more Italian Christmas traditions, there is a great article on Repubblica